Yud Zayin Adar I, 5776
Salmon on Shavuot
Among the followers of Rebbe Yecheskel of Kuzmir was Rebbe Shlomo HaCohen of Radomsk, author of the "Tiferet Shlomo". One year, word reached Kuzmir that Reb Shlomo was planning to come to Kuzmir for Shavuot. The Kuzmirer Chassidim began feverishly preparing for the event.
That year Shavuot came out on Sunday night through Tuesday. Reb Shlomo and his entourage, as well as many other Chassidim, arrived in Kuzmir for the preceding Shabbat. The tumult in Rebbe Yechezkel's court was great, with tremendous preparations being made for both Shabbat and the holiday which followed. Chassidim would say that on Shavuot in Kuzmir, one could experience the same spiritual arousal as the Jews had on Mount Sinai when they received the Torah.
Special attention was given to the preparation of fish for both Shabbat and Yom Tov meals in Kuzmir. Often the Rebbe himself would "meditate" on the fish before allowing it to be brought into the kitchen. In addition, he always came into the kitchen to add salt and pepper to the huge copper pot in which the fish was being cooked.
On Friday morning, the Rebbe's attendant came to him with a query from the Rebbetzin: since the coming Sunday was Erev Yom Tov, and the [non-Jewish] fisherman wouldn't be bringing their fish to town that day, should she leave over some of the Shabbat fish for the Yom Tov meals?
"G-d forbid!" answered the Rebbe. "The fish that have come to us for Shabbat cannot wait for their tikun (rectification) until Yom Tov. For Yom Tov, the Almighty will provide us with other fish."
Towards sunset, as the Rebbe was making his final preparations for Shabbat, he summoned his distinguished guest, Rebbe Shlomo of Radomsk, to his room. "Radomsker Rebbe! I order you to harness your horses and return to Radomsk to spend Shavuot with your Chassidim!"
"Really, Rebbe?" replied Reb Shlomo. "I've just come, and I still have much to learn from the Rebbe in serving G-d. I need to see how the Rebbe receives the Torah! And now you're sending me home, to all the common folk? Now that I'm here, please allow me to spend the holiday with you!"
"I'll tell you," answered Reb Chatzkel, "when the Torah was given, it says, 'And Moses went down from the mountain to the people' (Ex. 19:14). Rashi explains that this indicates that Moses did not occupy himself with his own business affairs, but went directly from the mountain to the people. One could ask, did Moses have a private business? Was he a merchant, that the Torah praises him for not occupying himself with his business?"
"No!" he continued. "It means that Moses, upon receiving the Torah from G-d, didn't think about himself - he didn't consider that maybe he should grasp things 100 percent, discuss them with Yehoshua, and then transmit them to the people. At that time, he wasn't concerned with himself, with his "affairs", even though these, too, were connected to Torah and serving G-d. Rather, he went directly from the mountain to the people."
"So now, Radomsker Rebbe, you would like to ascend undisturbed to the heights. But I'm telling you, you must go down from the mountain to the people, and return home for Shavuot."
In the midst of this conversation, the two tzadikim heard a commotion from just outside the door. Someone wanted to see the Rebbe about an urgent matter; but the attendants, knowing that he was involved with the Radomsker, tried to hold him back. Upon hearing the tumult, Reb Chatzkel opened the door and asked the man to come in. It was a simple Jewish fisherman. The Rebbe remained seated in his chair, and motioned to the Radomsker to remain there while he talked to the man.