Holy prayer service is an uplifting experience. Especially if you happened to be lucky enough to be one of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov meriting to hear him lead you with his voice sincere and such a concentration that you were transported to heavenly realms. Heaven on earth, is how those who merited to daven with the Baal Shem Tov described those moments where their souls lifted upward.
Yet, one day, in middle of prayers, the Baal Shem Tov left the Ammud, the place from where he led the prayers. All eyes followed him as he made his way to the door and exited the Bais Medrash. Where could he be going, in midst of his holy devotions.
More baffling things were to unfold, for the Baal Shem Tov called over the Gentile who was riding in his wagon full of wood. By now, the Baal Shem Tov was surrounded by his wondering students, and he instructed them to buy every last stick of wood on that wagon. No questions were asked at this time, for the Rebbe was taking no questions. Just instructing. Wood transferred to the Synagogue wood box, the Baal Shem Tov had the non-Jewish wood seller come collect his monies. With scrupulous diligence, the students were told to ensure that every stick of wood was paid for handsomely. Not only that, the grateful wood seller was honored with a shot of whiskey as a thank you for his help in unloading the wood.
Wood seller left beaming with joy. Baal Shem Tov returned to the Chazan’s place and resumed prayers. And his students returned to their seats, bewildered beyond words. What was that all about? But it wasn’t yet time for questions, for it was time to lose oneself again in the sweet prayers wafting heavenward with full concentration.
It was only much later in the day when the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov questioned their master. “Rebbe, what was so important about that load of wood that it had to be bought right then and there?”
“Know my students,” said the Rebbe, “that as I stood in prayer I sensed a Heavenly judgment being put into motion. An accusing angel said that there were Jews unscrupulous in business dealings with Gentiles. Quickly, I did a business transaction with the non-Jewish wood seller. That wood seller left the synagogue praising the Jewish way of doing business, satisfied with his deal. His words went upward…and, sure enough, the prosecuting angel hushed upon hearing the non-Jew praising our business dealings here.”
Know dear friends of Belz, that when there is persecuting charges, always make sure there is a counter-effect of exonerating praises. May we all merit to be a light unto nations, a people who deal fairly and pleasantly with all, and may all our actions bring praises that can silence any persecuting forces.