Lamedvavnik – Ben Dov

It was a rare sight. The kind that could only be seen through the grainy footage of a CCTV monitor, and from behind, too, so that the tzaddik’s face was kept hidden from view.

It happened late at night, long after the echoes of the ma’ariv prayers had faded away. In that moment, when evening became a memory and daylight lingered as a distant hope, he appeared. With graceful steps, he weaved his way along the seams of shadows cast by the eternal flame, dancing his way from one end of the empty shul to another. As if his feet weren’t touching the ground, he glided past the rows of seforim. With the backside of his forefinger, he caressed the spines of the sacred books, feeling the weight of centuries of wisdom beneath his touch.

When he reached the end of the bookshelf, he brought his hand up to his lips, closed his eyes, and kissed his calloused knuckle, a tender gesture of reverence and devotion.

Without taking his eyes off the holy texts, and in an astounding display of otherworldly grace, the tzaddik leapt into the air, his body floating above the ornate carpet, and landed with poised elegance squarely in front of the ark. His eyes shifted to the satin curtain in front of him, its material seemingly alive with an ethereal glow. In this silent moment the tzaddik found himself immersed in introspection, a reflection on the divine beauty that surrounded him.

“What a magnificent parochet,” he whispered to himself, his voice a mere breath. And magnificent it was. An expanse of fifteen feet of billowing satin adorned with miles of glistening thread that wove a tapestry of lions and doves, vines, and crowns. Each meticulously sewn inch formed an intricate mosaic of the most sacred of symbols.

Yet, beyond this sea of purple and gold, there was one object that drew everyone’s gaze; the tzaddik was no different in this regard. It was a golden placard, gleaming with a mesmerizing brilliance, suspended above the fabric ocean. Its inscription captured the essence of the moment.

“Da Lifnei Mi Atah Omed” – Know Whom Before You Stand.


Had anyone been in the shul that night – keeping in mind, of course, that the average Jew isn’t equipped to handle this level of spirituality – they would have strained their ears to catch the faint prayer escaping the tzaddik’s lips. “I sure do,” he would whisper, the weight of his devotion resonating in those words.

After three deliberate paces backward, the tzaddik bowed low behind the bimah and disappeared.

The following morning, when the sun’s gentle rays filled the sacred space, the pushke was empty, devoid of any coins or currency.



Ben Dov is a passionate writer with a deep love for Jewish culture. His short Jewish folktales, tenderly reimagined from his own life experiences, offer a glimpse into the beauty of his Chasidic heritage. Through his storytelling, Ben Dov aspires to share the beauty and complexity of Jewish life and tradition with a wider audience.

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