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Angel of Salvation and Solace

Yisroel Besser

When the tzaddik of Tosh raised his holy eyes to you, you felt unworthy and elevated at once, engulfed in the comfort that you weren’t alone in your challenges. The learners and dreamers, the workers and slackers, all found a place on the worn benches of Tosh; it was an island where the talmid chacham could gain inspiration and the struggling soul could gather hope.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Motzaei Shabbos in Tosh. The decor is unremarkable — faded linoleum, painted cinder block walls, memorial plaques spread around like autumn leaves. The gruff sweetness of gabbaim, the animated hum of the bochurim standing guard in various anterooms, the persistent buzzing of a lightbulb, the hope that runs through these rooms like a river. It’s the smells that capture you. Perspiration. Hundreds of chassidim who’ve just experienced an intense Shabbos line the waiting room, collective tension and body heat making it very warm despite softly falling snow outside. The lingering smell of overcooked kugel, challah crumbs, and burning wax. Tosh is a place of candles, which the Rebbe tends with the care of a gardener, seeing stories in each flickering light. The mustiness of old seforim, Tehillims opened across wooden tables. Then, after a wait that takes you into a dimension beyond time, long after you’ve despaired on a night’s sleep, the door opens and you are in his room. And the scent is that ofGanEden. The tzaddik of Tosh raises his pure eyes without moving his head. His smile is that of your grandfather, your great-grandfather, all the sainted Jews who’ve ever loved you. You feel unworthy and elevated at once, undeserving of the love you know is your birthright. You start to talk, words rolling off your tongue and your heart, more than you planned to say. The Rebbe mumbles too, half-words, nodding along as if he already knows. Then he looks at you, the radiance of his smile an assurance of its own. Not only that all will be well, but that all is as it’s supposed to be, that the Eibeshter will help. The Tosher Rebbe didn’t just make things right; he also made sure that the lines of people who came into his room with sagging shoulders and furrowed brows left knowing that there is a Creator in the world.

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