A Dybbuk Story
This story is brought down in Hebrew in לב אליהו on Sefer Bereishit, pp. 28-31 by the students of R' Eliyahu Lopian Zt"l, compiled by R' Sholom Schwadron. The first person in the story, I believe, is R' Schwadron. I will translate it as best as possible.
Now, we will relate an amazing story, which also Maran [R' Lopian] was involved with, as we will see later, G-d willing. This story has an important foundational message and a great Mussar idea. I heard it from Moreinu VeRabbeinu Hagaon Hatzadik R' Eliyahu Hakohen Dushnitzer, Z"l, who was the Hebrew principal of the Lumza Yeshiva in Petah Tikva. I need to introduce a few items first.
It's known that Moreinu VeRabbeinu R' Dushnitzer was one of the 10 Kollel men who learned Seder Kodashim in Radin, where the Hafetz Hayim Ztvk"l sent them to exorcise a dybbuk from a woman who was brought to the Hafetz Hayim so save her... It's also known that R' Elhanan Wasserman would relate the story every Seudat Purim in front of the Benei Yeshiva, and would be lengthy with this for 2 hours. Therefore, when I got the chance once to ask [R' Dushnitzer] about the Dybbuk and asked him to tell me, he answered me "What will you get out of such a story? It's just a story... (I understood from his words that he didn't want to tell me because he would have had to tell me also what the Dybbuk said about him, as is known.) However, I will tell you a story similar to this that has a Mussar lesson."
This is what he told me:
"This story - you can and should tell publicly, and you can preface it by saying that I told this to you, exactly as I heard it from the known Gaon in Israel - Moreinu Harav Elazar Moshe Z"l from Pinsk, and you know me that I don't lie, חס ושלום, and I don't exaggerate or add anything with this - I am rather relaying word for word as I heard it from the aforementioned HaGaon R' Elazar Moshe.
This is the story:
There was a man in Kelm who was a merchant and Torah-knowledgeable whose name was R' Neta (they used to call him R' Notil), and he had one daughter. He married her off to a Yeshiva Bahur who excelled and was a Talmid Hacham, and gave him a dowry of many thousands of rubles along with many years of eating at his table while the son-in-law would sit and learn Torah. When the allotted time was up, and the couple could no longer eat at his table, the daughter started claiming, "What will we eat?!" The husband answered her that he cannot leave Torah and do business and throw all his Torah to the sea... Until she gave him the advice and said: "We'll take the dowry money and open a store and I will stand there all day long except for 2 hours of the day, when you will stand there [to man the store] so the rest of the hours of the day you can use to continue learning Torah as before." The husband agreed, and that's what they did.
For the first 3 months, this was how it worked, but afterwards, the 2 hours turned into 4 hours, and then 8, etc., etc. until he was fully engrossed in the business... and he didn't even have time to open a Gemara...
One Motza'ei Shabbat after midnight, where there was a huge snowstorm and blizzard, (I am relating this like the language and form that I heard it from Moreinu VeRabbeinu Z"l) this woman went outside to pour a barrel of unclean water out, and she returned home as if she was choking and could not speak... Her husband ran immediately and quickly got a doctor to come to his house, and he did not know what to do, and the next day too... he went with her and sought [the advice of] many doctors and they also traveled to the city of Vienna, without success. They started talking in the town that maybe this is a Dybbuk..
They traveled to the city of Shtuchin, where there was a Mekubal by the name of R' Mendel Z"l, to whom people traveled for such cases. When they came before him, he asked the Dybbuk some question, and he heard a voice answering, and as is known, when a Dybbuk speaks, the ill host's stomach is raised up, but the lips do not move, and a voice comes out (these were Moreinu VeRabbeinu Z"l's words), and then, all those who heard were astounded and said, "Aha! It's a Dybbuk..." However, the Tzaddik R' Mendel said that he doesn't know yet if it's true, so he asked it, "Who is going with you (i.e. the transmigrating soul)?" It replied, "5 destructive angels." He asked it, "What are their names?" It replied with the names of the angels... Then, R' Mendel said that it's true - this is a true Dybbuk.
He started to ask it questions, for example, "Who are you?" It said to me that he was a Bahur in Brisk dozens of years ago (I don't remember exactly how many), and then went to Africa, and his friends corrupted him there, and he Rahmana Litzlan transgressed the entire Torah, and then traveled on a wagon, which he fell off and was killed. And that is how he is - he is transmigrating continuously in the world until now. He told it, "Why did you not do Teshuva right before you died?" It answered him that because of the fear and craziness at the moment he fell from the wagon, he forgot to do think Teshuva [at that time].
Afterwards, he asked it, "What do you have against this woman that you caused her such terrible suffering?" It started laughing out loud and said, "This girl's mother and her husband's mother (both of whom already had passed to the next world) had strenghtened themselves with supplication up above in heaven that I should enter her and cause her this suffering, since if it were not for this, she wouldn't have what to stand on in this world or the next world! This is because she took her husband away from being busy learning Torah!..."
Once they heard this, R' Mendel said to the husband that he should promise to return to Torah, and he promised. R' Notil similarly promised to learn Mishnayot for the uplifting of the soul of the Bahur - the Dybbuk and also a certain amount of candles to be lit in the synagogue for him. Afterwards, R' Mendel gathered a minyan of 10 men into his room and they said Tehilim, and he stood behind them and he said what he said, while he put the woman on a chair in the middle of the room. Suddenly, she rolled from the chair to the floor and a powerful voice came out from her [saying] "Shema Yisrael..." - the entire town of Shtuchin heard this voice. Afterwards, the fingernail of the pinky of one of her hands burst open, and one glass from the window was broken, and she became quiet...
Until here is what Moreinu Harav Eliyahu Hakohen Dushnitzer told me. He repeated his words again and said that you may retell this story in my name, and you know me that I don't lie Has VeShalom and I also do not exaggerate - I have only related to you exactly as I heard it from the mouth of the Ga'on R' Elazar Moshe Z"l.
Moreinu VeRabbeinu Z"l [Rav Dushnitzer] added these words, and I quote, "However, I recently heard that this aforementioned couple who are already elderly - coming in age - they came to Eretz Yisrael and they live in Tel Aviv, and they have a large family here of children and grandchildren. You also know them. However, I will not tell you their names because it can harm them for Shidduchim... On one Motza'ei Shabbat, I traveled from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv and I stayed at their house, and they themselves told me the entire story, just as I heard it from the Ga'on R' Elazar Moshe and as I related to you." Endquote from Moreinu VeRabbeinu Z"l [Rav Dushnitzer].
Now, when Maran [Rav Eliyahu Lopian] came to Eretz Yisrael, and afterwards, when we got close to him and we once sat in his room - I and another fellow in Yeshivat Kamenitz - and I told this story in front of him, he had asked me, "Have you finished talking?" (This was his custom always and this was the custom of everyone from Kelm, in order not to enter the words of one's fellow.) When I answered, "Yes," he told us in this wording:
I heard this story from the father of the mentioned woman - R' Notil Z"l in Kelm on the fence of the courtyard of the Talmud Torah, and just as you had told it. However, with 2 changes: 1) that he didn't fall from a wagon, but rather, traveled on a boat and drowned at sea. 2) that the Dybbuk would cry sometimes (near R' Mendel there) with loud sounds and with fearsome frights, that all who heard it were afraid and shaken up. He would say that the destructive angels were waiting for it to exit the woman's body and they would tear it up into pieces...(since destructive angels do not have permission to touch a Rasha's soul as long as it is found inside a living body). After a few seconds passed, it started speaking words of mockery and profanities in a very vulgar way - until all who heard it would close their ears in order not to hear its profanities. They asked it [the dybbuk], "Is it possible?! A few seconds ago, you cried with great frights 'Gevalt!' in a foreign language, and now you are speaking words of profanities and mockery?!" He answered them with the following wording, "You should know that if one does not do Teshuva and does not become clean from sin, then the soul above desires evil just like when it was down [on earth]..." These were the words of the Dybbuk.
Maran [R' Lopian] added and said:
From here we see the power of desire - it's scary! That even the tremendous fear of the 5 destructive angels that it saw (of course for a soul, "seeing" with eyes is not applicable, but he must be saying this to make it palatable) and was so scared of them, but nevertheless couldn't help itself from bringing his desires into fruition to speak profinities and mockeries that it was used to when it was alive. Hashem should guard us and save us from sin.Until here are the words of Maran Z"l [R' Lopian]. Someone who heard this added that one can claim this [is an insight] in the saying of Haza"l who said [that whoever commits one sin,] it is tied to him like a dog.