Spiritual Tools: Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk: Living in Israel
The 1st of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk (1720or 1730-1788). A close talmid of the Maggid of Mezritch, he – along with Rav Avraham of Kalisk – led a contingency of 300 chassidim to Eretz Yisrael in what was the first large aliya of the talmidim HaBesht.
Rabbi Mendel used to say: “It is true that the air of the Land of Israel makes a man wise. Before I was in that land, all my thoughts and desires were intent on single prayer just once in exactly the right way. But since I am in this land, all I want is just to say ‘Amen’ in the right way.”
Another thing he said, was: “This is what I attained in the Land of Israel. When I see a bundle of straw lying in the street, it seems to me a sign of the presence of God, that it lies there lengthwise, and not crosswise.”