BUYING THE TOLDOS TO SAVE BERDITCHEV
Courtesy: R' Tal Moshe Zwecker (Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim, Chassidic Classics in the English Language)
Rav Chaim Elazar Shapira of Munkascz author of Minchas Elazar told the following story:
When Rav Yaakov Yosef of Polnoya printed his holy sefer the Toldos Yaakov Yosef on the Torah he
traveled to Berditchev on the day of the trade fair. He brought with him two hundred copies to sell.
He rented a storefront and placed a copy or two of his book open in the window to display it to
passerby who might be interested in purchasing it. He was sure without a doubt that anyone who would
just read a few lines and see what he had written would run to snatch up a copy.
However when some interested potential buyers asked him the price of a volume and the Toldos
answered them that the price was a Rendil (a very valuable gold coin worth hundreds of dollars), they
laughed and went on their way saying: "For a whole Rendil we can buy a new wardrobe and shoes to
match!" Days passed with no sales and the fair was drawing to a close. The Toldos was despondent, he
began to feel very disappointed.
Somehow word got to the Berditchiver and the Kedushas Levi knew the entire story. He told his
faithful Rebbitzen the entire story, "Our dear friend Rav Yaakov Yosef has come here to Berditchev to
sell his new sefer at the fair. His asking price is too high and I am afraid that in his anger and
disappointment at his situation the entire city will be punished as a result."
Based on her husband's sage advice the Rebbitzen decided to sacrifice one of her prized possessions.
She quickly hurried off and went to pawn her shterntichel (a beautiful crown of silver or gold and
diamonds) for the sum of two hundred rendils. She handed the entire sum of money to the Berditchiver
so that he could purchase all the seforim and save the town from the impending tragedy.
The holy Berditchiver took a young man as his emissary and gave him the entire sum, a small fortune
and asked him to try and bargain with the Toldos. "Ask him to give you a discount if you buy forty or
fifty books," explained the Berditchiver. He hoped thereby to make the sale seem authentic and so that
the Toldos would not suspect a thing.
However when he approached the Toldos, the latter would not budge a cent from his asking price. No
matter how the young man haggled and tried to wheel and deal the Toldos stubbornly replied: "Even if
you were to take the entire lot of two hundred books, I will not lower the price by even a kopeck."
Finally the young man purchased all two hundred seforim for the entire sum. Afterwards the Toldos
having finished his business decided to visit the Rav of Berditchev before talking his leave of the city.
When he came to visit the Berditchiver he excused himself for not visiting yet since he was busy with
the mitzvah of selling his seforim.
The Toldos then recounted to him the entire story of and of how pained he was that at first no one
bought any of his seforim, "However," concluded the Toldos, "finally Hashem sent me a young man
with a good head on his shoulders who really appreciated my sefer and valued it so much that he
bought all two hundred copies for the price I asked!"
The Berditchiver listened and smiled, "really you don't say?!" was all he remarked at the wondrous tale.
(Otzar HaSippurim Vol. IV #15 p.29-31, Chodesh BeChodsho Munkacsz Nisan 5757 Vol 37 p52)
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