So it turns out that people really liked the story in my email last week. Missed it? Check it out here, and feel free to comment on the site.
Happy birthday to our son Sruli! He turns 6 tomorrow (Shabbat); I can’t believe it!Sruli is a nickname for Yisroel (Israel, in English), and he was named after the founder of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov. I present to you the following tidbit from the Baal Shem Tov’s life:
Before he became renowned as a tzaddik, a righteous person, the Baal Shem Tov performed ritual slaughter in relative anonymity.
After people discovered how great he was, he left his post as the community’s ritual slaughterer, and they found someone to replace him.
Shortly thereafter, someone in a nearby village sent a chicken with a gentile messenger (as he had done frequently in the past) to be slaughtered — though now, by the new shochet. The messenger returned with the bird in hand, very much alive.
“Why didn’t you have the bird slaughtered?” his boss asked.
“When Yisrolik [i.e., the Baal Shem Tov] would slaughter,” began the messenger, “he would first sharpen the knife on a stone that he wet with his own tears. But the person who has replaced him, merely wets the sharpening stone with water from a bucket… Should I really allow such a man to slaughter the bird?!”