By Rabbi Yair Hoffman


This segulah was sent to me by a friend.

Supposedly, the author of the Yismach Yisrael lived in the time of a mageifah. When asked what to do, he responded, “If anyone just looks at my face he will be saved from the epidemic.” The tale continues that everyone who looked at his face was not subject to the illness. Even gentiles flocked to see his countenance.

This author doubts the authenticity of the story.

First of all, how do we know that some overanxious chassid did not make up this story? The tale even goes beyond Moshe Rabbeinu. In the parashah of the serpents, one had to look at the nachash ha’nechoshes, and even then the person had to do teshuvah. Moshe Rabbeinu’s visage did not cut it. This story does not have teshuvah with it. Even Yom Kippur is only mechaper with teshuvah.

Secondly, there is no mention of this story in the chassidishe sefarim that this author has seen.

Thirdly, the picture does not at all look like the author of the Yismach Yisrael. It kind of looks like the Vilna Gaon.

And finally, there are spelling errors in this.

Now that we have come to this conclusion, it is more likely that some pranking Litvak came up with this entire thing.

Rav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak Dancyger (1853–1910) was the second Rebbe of Alechsander Chassidim. He was more famous than his father, the original Rebbe. He had a large chassidus and printed the Yismach Yisrael Hagaddah (Hebrew: “Israel will Rejoice”) in 1911, which he wrote together with his brother, Reb Shmuel Tzvi (1840–1923), who later became the third Alechsander and authored the Tiferes Shmuel.

Let us keep in mind that if a mageifah comes, it is from Hashem and it is for a reason. The idea of looking at something and being forgiven without teshuvah is foreign to Torah-true Yiddishkeit. It smacks of another religion. Let us not jump so fast to believe this segulah.

Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at


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