The Chassid Desecrated Shabbat
The Book of Shabbat
A story is told about a G-d fearing Chassid who desecrated the Shabbat unintentionally. He would ordinarily begin observing Shabbat two hours before sunset.
During the weekdays he would deal with merchandise: He would make his way from village to village and on Fridays he would make sure to quit his occupations and get home early enough. And once as he was on his way to his home the sun had set and he was delayed at welcoming the Shabbat on time. He seeked a correction, a way to repent. The sorrow and remorse about this occurrence troubled him. So he went to see the Righteous Rabbi Michel of Zolochev. And the Rabbi, being stringent about this matter, looked at the Chassid with a formidable gaze and said:
"In order to correct what you have marred in the sublime world, you must take upon yourself many days of fasting, you must roll in snow and you must sit in cold water on Autumn days".
Although afflictions clear people's sins, the weak body of the Chassid, and his preoccupation in making a living, did not allow him to fulfil the decree, so he went to see the Ba'al Shem Tov. When he appeared before the Ba'al Shem Tov asking for a reparation for the crime he had done of desecrating the Shabbat, the Ba'al Shem Tov turned to him with bright and searching eyes, saying:
"Go back to your home and donate candles to the synagogue".
The Chassid felt absolutely horrified at the lenient correction he was given on this grave sin he had committed and it occurred to him that perhaps, the Baal Shem Tov had erred. When he told the Baal Shem Tov about the process of correction assigned to him by Rabbi Michel of Zolochev, the Baal Shem Tov looked at him and said: "Donate candles to the synagogue! And tell Rabi Michel of Zolochev: I order him to come to spend next Shabbat with me".
On Friday, Rabbi Michel of Zolochev got up in the early morning, and took his Tallit and Tefillin with him and went off to see the Ba'al Shem Tov. As he neared the city, the sun was setting, and he arrived late to town. After the Shabbat welcoming on Friday night, as soon as the Ba'al Shem Tov was about to recite the Kiddush, Rabbi Michel of Zolochev walked in.
"Sholom Aleichem, Rabbi Michel!" chided the Ba'al Shem Tov, as he looked at him with big smiling eyes and said:
"Rabbi Michel, do you now see what the punishment is for one who is stringent about the correction of Shabbat desecration unintentionally?"
The Ba'al Shem Tov then conversed with Rabbi Michel of Zolochev and told him: "You, Rabbi Michel of Zolochev, have never 'tasted the flavor' of a sin, and therefore you are not well acquainted with the sorrow of the person who sins and strives to repent. Please be aware of the fact that by becoming heartbroken out of remorse for desecrating the Shabbat, is in itself a remedy the sin that was committed unintentionally".