No story of the Sar Shalom would be complete without telling of the enormous undertaking he took to build a large Beis Haknesses in Belz.
Whenever the Ruv z”l, Reb Aharon, used to tell stories of the Sar Shalom, the first thing he would talk about was the Shul in Belz.
Why did he build the Beis Haknesses? The following is the reason that the Sar Shalom told his brother. This story is brought down in two reliable sources.
The Sar Shalom’s older brother, Reb Leibish, was the Rav of Barditchev. He once came to visit their mother, who resided in her later years in Belz. Reb Leibish knew that the Sar Shalom is building a Beis Haknesses but he didn’t know that he is helping in the actual building. When he arrived in Belz, he saw the Sar Shalom hard at work with bricks and cement. He couldn’t contain his astonishment, “Aren’t there any workers or Chasidim to do the work of their Rebbe?”
The Sar Shalom explained to him the following. When he was a Yungerman and lived in Sokul, they were a group of three Yungerleit who were diligently learning Torah and working on themselves together. They took upon themselves to be up for a thousand nights learning Torah all night. All three started but after a few hundred nights one dropped out. After another few hundred the other Yungerman dropped out, and the Sar Shalom was left to complete the Avoda himself.
The last night, there were many disturbances to the Sar Shalom. A storm descended on Sokul, the windows of the Shul broke and it became impossible to learn. The Sar Shalom wanted to leave the Shul and learn at home, but it was impossible to go outside in the storm. He was devastated that on the last night he is not able to learn. He approached the Aron Kodesh and opened its doors. He started pouring out his heart to Hashem, after so much work he should be able to complete his commitment.
His Tefillah was heard and the storm calmed down. A short while later Eliyahu Hanavi revealed himself to the Sar Shalom and learned with him the whole Torah. The last Halachos that they learned was the Halachos of a Beis Haknesses. From then on, the Sar Shalom had a strong desire to build a Beis Haknesses with all it’s specification on the highest level possible.
He said to his brother, “Believe me my dear brother, if I would have been able to I would have built it all by myself. Hashem knows that everything that is in my strength to do I did for the Shul.”
When Chasidim came to Belz, even Chasidim who were businessmen, the Sar Shalom would sometimes instruct them to take part in the actual building as a Segulah.
Next week we’ll continue with some details of the Beis Haknesses.