My recommendation for this new biography – My Rebbe, by Adin Steinsaltz. Also, check out www.therebbe.org.
As we approach the twentieth anniversary since the great Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson physically left this world, I dedicate this article to the faith one is expected to nurture in “the servants, the prophets” of G-d in every generation.
When the Israelites miraculously came through the Reed Sea the Bible states, “they had faith in G-d and in Moses his servant.” From this statement, the Midrash, a commentary on the Bible says, “we learn that faith in a faithful shepherd, is equivalent to faith in G-d Himself.”
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses, as he recounts the giving of the Ten Commandments says, “I stood between G-d and yourselves to tell you the word of G-d.”
The faith a person has in Tzadikim- spiritual righteous human beings, is an extension of the faith we have in G-d. G-d who in His great mercy is beyond comprehension, and who takes care of his world, sends His human messengers in every generation to represent His interests in this world.
The Baal Shem Tov explains that according to the refinement of the soul of an individual, which may have already taken place in earlier reincarnations, a person merits to feel his special connection to this shepherd and guide.
Once, immediately after the Sabbath when there was no chance anyone had money in their pockets, the Baal Shem Tov asked his disciples to purchase candles to brighten up the house of study. The students hurried to fulfill their masters’ request and placed their hands in their pockets to pay with the money they would surely find. Such was their faith in their teacher and mentor.
The soul is eternal and not limited to any physical limitations, especially the soul of the Tzadik- righteous Holy man. As the years advance, his soul becomes stronger and more available to all those who connect to him, by following his requests and studying his teachings.
There are great benefits to pray to G-d, at the place where the body is interred. Prayers of the individual are more readily accepted, since the place is holy, and because one is aroused more deeply in prayer standing before this great person, his prayers are more meaningful, more powerful and reach deeper and higher levels in G-d. Prayers at this place, connects ones prayers with the Holy Temple as it will be in the times of Moshiach. Imagine the incredible superior quality there is in such prayer and connection with G-d.
Once, a certain villager fell ill and asked his wife to ask the Tzadik for a blessing. She didn’t believe in the powers of a Tzadik but to please her husband she hired a wagon to travel to Reb Yisroel of Ruziyn. On her way she passed a village where the local innkeeper in dire straits sent his wife to go along for a blessing to address their own difficulties.
When they arrived, they both wrote down their problems and request for a blessing. In their excitement, each woman took the others woman paper. To the lady whose husband was ill, the Tzadik gave a blessing. To the lady whose husband couldn’t pay his bills, the Tzadik recommended an application of hot cupping glasses and leeches.
This woman had a strong faith and when the day approached for the payment she got her husband to place the blood sucking leeches and applied the heated cupping glasses. The henchman who came to pick up payment reported to their boss that the tenant was lying in bed dripping with blood all over him.
Deeply moved, the landowner forgave the debt and gave them three years rent free.
The Tzadik of Ruziyn when he heard the story told a colleague. “ Believe me, when that woman stood before me, I knew no way of drawing down help for her. She alone, through the intensity of her faith, drew her own salvation from heaven.”