The Ignorant Chosson’s Transformation

Photo: Deena Englard/Frocks In Stock

Photo: Deena Englard/Frocks In Stock

Motzei Shabbos Story: Rabbi Avraham Abish of Frankfurt was born into a family of great Torah scholars, but he did not quite fit in. That all changed after an humiliating incident during his wedding feast.

By Hillel Baron –

Rabbi Avraham Abish of Frankfurt was born into a family of great Torah scholars, but he did not quite fit in. He experienced learning challenges, including trouble with reading. Despite his difficulty participating in Jewish life, he was a sincere young man who developed a strong awe of Heaven.

His father understood that he could not marry into a family of scholars, and arranged a match with the daughter of a wealthy, G‑d fearing businessman from the city of Mezeritch.

The custom in those areas was that during the festivities surrounding a wedding, the groom would lead the Grace After Meals, reciting the final words of each blessing aloud. His brothers worried that his lack of reading skills would embarrass them, so they made a point of tutoring him, and helped him memorize the blessings.

During one of the meals before the wedding, while surrounded by his family, he was asked to lead the blessings, as preparation for the wedding festivities. But his mind went blank, and he could not remember what he had memorized.

Frustrated and ashamed, his brothers scolded him and told him that he was an “embarrassment to the family.” Crestfallen, he left the table and went off into the forest, where he prayed to G‑d like never before.

Exhausted, he fell asleep and dreamt of an impressive-looking man who told him, “I will bless you to succeed in scholarship, provided you remain humble, as you always have been. Whenever I appear to you, you will listen to what I teach you and then repeat it.”

The wedding took place on a Monday. On Tuesday morning, the groom was sent off to pray in the town synagogue. After prayers, the holy man from his dream appeared to him and spoke to him, so the young groom got up to speak in front of the people. He delivered a beautiful dissertation on an obscure subject of Talmud, and everyone crowded around him, immensely impressed by his teachings.

Meanwhile, his father and family were waiting for him, and wondered why he was so delayed. They went off to the shul to see what was going on, and were amazed to see him delivering a speech.

“He has finally revealed his potential as a great scholar and a tribute to the family,” they said to each other. “Maybe we should see about ending this marriage, as he can now marry into a great rabbinic family like ours.”

But the groom, of course, refused and said that the woman he had just married had clearly been ordained for him by G‑d. He went off with his wife to study in the Torah academies of the day, and became one of the great scholars of Israel.

Nevertheless, he always retained his humility. When signing his name, he would write: “Avram hu Avraham.” This reminded himself and others of how G‑d chose to transform Abraham our Forefather into a great man, changing his name from Avram to Avraham, which carries the meaning, “Father of multitudes of nations.” The hint was that the same applied to him: he had been called upon by G‑d, and had been transformed into the scholar he now was.

Reprinted with permission from

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