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Danger in Constantinople: Chapter 2

Y. Bromberg

Out stepped the Baal Shem Tov. He walked through the crowd until he was directly in front of the man who had been speaking

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The prince surprised his father at midnight with a strange request.

“Father, I’ve had a change of heart regarding the Jews. I would like for us to take a royal ride through the Jewish quarter so that I can see just how much they respect and honor you as they rush to greet you in the streets. I’ve arranged that the royal guard will take us there tonight after sunset. It should be a grand display!”

“Very well, tonight it is. You will see how excited they are to greet me and then you’ll finally realize how loyal they are.”

“Yes, Father. I cannot wait.”

Outside the room Mubarak chuckled to himself. The Jews would show no honor to the king that night. They would not chant his praises nor would they even bother to leave their homes and greet him. Tonight, Mubarak knew, was the Jewish Holiday of Pesach and the Jews would be sitting down to their Pesach Seder.

The king, however, did not know of this Jewish practice. His rage would be kindled so greatly that a terrible punishment was sure to be unleashed upon the entire Jewish community of Constantinople, Istanbul.

 

*****

The news about the holy guest staying with Nosson spread like wildfire throughout the city. People flocked to Nosson’s mansion and pressed their faces against the windows to catch a glimpse of the holy tzaddik.

“It’s Erev Pesach and you are all wasting your time!” A Jew with a large frown across his face barked at the crowds gathered outside of Nosson’s home. “Don’t you realize how distant the Baal Shem Tov is from all of you? He is a tzaddik involved in the loftiest of pursuits, separated from the struggles we all endure daily. He is a king and we are meaningless peasants in his eyes; why should you even try to connect to him?”

“You shouldn’t talk so badly of yourself, friend,” Nosson said as he emerged from his house and faced the man. “If there’s anyone who would disagree with you strongly, it would be the Baal Shem Tov himself. His service of Hashem is all about reaching out to every shoemaker, beggar, and woodchopper, and helping them grow closer to Torah and mitzvos. He is not absorbed in himself at all. Rather, he is obsessed with us, his fellow Jews!”

“I personally feel too lowly to attempt to come close to such a great man,” the Jew insisted. “He is a mighty giant and I am a tiny ant who can barely even read Hebrew.”

Suddenly, the door to Nosson’s home opened and out stepped the Baal Shem Tov. He walked through the crowd until he was directly in front of the man who had been speaking. A hush overcame the crowd and the man’s face turned white. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 731)

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