By Hershel Rosenbluh for Anash.org
13 Elul is the yahrtzeit of Rav Yakov Yisroel Twersky of Cherkas, son in law of the Mitteler Rebbe and son of Reb Mottele Chernobler. He passed away in 5636/1876. The Cherkasser was also the zeide of the Frierdiker Rebbe, by way of his daughter Chanah marrying Rav Yosef Yitzchok of Avrutsh, who was the father of Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, mother of the Frierdiker Rebbe.
The chossid Reb Shmerel Batumer (Sasonkin) in his memoirs, tells the story of how once in circa 5688/1928 Reb Itche Der Masmid was visiting Nevel, where Reb Shmerel was at the time. Reb Shmerel shared with Reb Itche a thought that he had about the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Melochim that speaks of the identity of Moshiach and what his qualifications are. Ya’amod melech miBeis Dovid, that Moshaich needs to be from the House of Dovid Hamelech, etc. Reb Shmerel told Reb Itche that he believes that the Frierdiker Rebbe is the one that fits that description, being that he’s from Beis Dovid and is the only one fighting for Yiddishkeit in the Soviet Union. That too is a qualification mentioned in the Rambam.
Reb Itche responded that he has a story to tell about this, but that now is not the time to tell it. Reb Shmerel asked him many times to tell the story, but Reb Itche would always tell him that now is not the time. Until finally, the opportunity arrived.
One winter night Reb Itche was sitting with the bochurim in Nevel and farbrenging. He spoke about learning Torah lishmoh. Introspective niggunim were sung. At the conclusion of the farbrengen, when most of the bochurim had fallen asleep, Reb Shmerel says, he and the mashgiach Reb Shia Korf approached Reb Itche and reminded him about the story he promised to tell us, he acquiesced, and began to tell the story:
Amongst chassidim, it is known what the Maggid of Mezritch said that Moshiach will be descended from either his oldest or youngest talmid. The oldest talmid was Reb Nochum Chernobler, who had already been by the Baal Shem Tov. The youngest talmid was the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe wanted to be meshadech with Reb Nochum’s descendant so that he removes any doubt and that Moshiach will be descended from him. The Alter Rebbe had a grandchild and so did Reb Nochum. The Alter Rebbe traveled to Chernobel to see what he can do about a shidduch between the two families.
While there, the Alter Rebbe and Reb Nochum walked to the well to draw water. It was a clear summer night. The two tzaddikim got so engrossed in their discussion that they didn’t feel the time pass. Only in the morning, when locals began to arrive at the well, did they realize that they’d been there all night. The two then went back home, where the Alter Rebbe told Reb Mottele “do you know why I came here, let’s make a shidduch!” Reb Nochum agreed and said he can choose whichever child he wants.
Reb Nochum’s married children lived in his home, as was the seder then. The Alter Rebbe walked into the room where the small children were sleeping and began to feel the children’s heads. So it was until he found one child that found favor in his eyes, and said that this is the child with whom he wants to make the shidduch. Reb Nochum agreed and asked that the child be moved to a separate corner in the house.
When Reb Boruch Mezhibuz’er, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, heard about this he also came to Chernobel to do a shidduch. He too wanted that same child for his eynikel, but was told that the shidduch was already taken. That child was Rav Yakov Yisroel, who was later in Cherkas and married Devorah Leah, daughter of the Mitteler Rebbe.
The Frierdiker Rebbe is descended from that shidduch!
On Purim 5687/1927, the last Purim the Frierdiker Rebbe spent in Leningrad, Reb Itche was at the Frierdiker Rebbe’s seudah and farbrengen and wanted very much to tell the Frierdiker Rebbe this story about the shidduch. He took a lot of mashkeh and announced that he has a story to tell. The Frierdiker Rebbe told Reb Itche that he has no need for his stories. Reb Itche responded that the story affects the Frierdiker Rebbe. To which the Frierdiker Rebbe responded: “The stories that are nogeah = (pertinent) to me I know already.” The story was never told.
At the end of the night, when the mashkeh had worn off, the Frierdiker Rebbe told Reb Itche to tell his story, but Reb Itche no longer had the courage to tell it.