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Spiritual Tools-Ohel Yehoshua-The Importance of Stories

The 23rd of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yehoshua (Shaya’le) (ben Shalom) Rokeach of Belz (1825-1894), fifth son and successor of the Sar Shalom, founder of the Belz dynasty. He married a granddaughter of the Apter Rav. After Rav Shalom was niftar in 1855, the Belz Chasidim had no leader for two years. Rav Yehoshua replaced his father two years later, in compliance with his father’s wishes, despite the fact that Rav Yehoshua had 4 older brothers. He led the Belz Chasidim for 39 years. He was also the founder of Machzikei HaDas, perhaps the first Orthodox Jewish organization to be involved in government politics. Some of his discourses are published in Ohel Yehoshua, a supplement to the book of his father’s teachings, Dover Shalom. He was succeeded by his second son, Rav Yissachar Dov.


“In order that you should tell these stories in the ears of your children and your grandchildren how I played with the Egyptians… And you will know that I am God.” The verse does not begin by saying that you must know that I am God, or that your children should know that I am God, but that you should begin with the stories.

The reason is that when someone wants to give over something of such value, especially belief, to another, they must be words that come from the deepest parts of the heart. This comes when a parent or teacher shares a personal story, a personal relationship with God. The knowledge of God, the awareness of God, comes from the teacher or parent sharing his personal connection and belief. Therefore, the verse begins with stories; the result will be awareness of God. (Ohel Yehoshua #14)

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