I have written many stories over the years. Hundreds of stories. Many of them have made an impact, baruch Hashem. Once in a while, however, I have the privilege of writing something whose effect lingers on and on. Such was the story about the sefer Zera Shimshon.
Seven years ago a friend approached me in Ramat Beit Shemesh. If I’m not mistaken, it was a Friday night, and we were standing in front of the Gra shul at the time. He said he had a story to tell me.
The story was about his father-in-law, who had been diagnosed with a dreaded illness. One day a friend of his, the owner of the sefarim store in Manchester, told him about a sefer whose author promised great blessings to those who studied his works. It was titled Zera Shimshon. My friend’s father-in-law took the sefer home and began to learn from it. He had a yeshuah almost instantaneously.
When I wrote up the story, I quoted from the blessing that the author bestows on those who study his sefer. “And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding, with houses filled with all manner of good things…and wealth and honor…”
It’s really quite a promise. And, as I’ve discovered, the blessings continue.
Zera Shimshon and its sister sefer, Toldos Shimshon, were written by R’ Shimshon Chaim Nachmani, zt”l, a Sephardic talmid chacham and tzaddik who passed away without a child to keep his memory alive. For years, few learned these sefarim. Hardly anyone even knew about them. They were written in an old-fashioned font that was extremely difficult to read. But after my article about the sefer was printed in Hamodia in 2007, the world woke up. Suddenly, everyone wanted a copy. Overnight it became almost impossible to acquire Zera Shimshon because all available copies had been sold. The sefer had gone from something no one knew about to something everyone wanted. It was incredible.
But it didn’t end there. Months passed, and then years, and people still called or e-mailed me, asking – almost begging – for details about the sefer. I told them to get in touch with R’ Wagschal from Williamsburg, because his was the contact name and number on the flyleaf. The number was an old one, six digits in all, although R’ Wagschal’s address was included. It seemed that those who wanted to possess a copy of Zera Shimshon would have to work hard to get it.
Five years passed. Still people got in touch, wanting to know how to track down the sefer. I heard that it had been reprinted. More than once. And it had been sold out again and again. But I had nothing really concrete to tell them.
And then, suddenly, everything changed.
I visited the States early in the summer of 2013. My wife and I were meeting with my editor from Hamodia, when my phone rang.
“Is this Rabbi Seltzer?”
“Shalom Aleichem. My name is Binyomin Paskesz, and I live in Williamsburg.”
R’ Paskesz had been trying to track me down. He’d called my home number in Israel and was informed that I was currently in the States.
“Are you the one who wrote the article about Zera Shimshon back in 2007?”
“Yes.” Another person who wanted to know where he could purchase the sefer, I thought.
I was wrong.
“Rabbi Seltzer, I’m one of the people involved in making Zera Shimshon accessible to the public. People still talk about the article you wrote so many years ago. It’s time for a follow-up piece.”
“What do you mean?”
“You have no idea how many miracles have happened to people because they started learning the sefer!”
“I can tell you story after story.”
This was great news. I had never been able to forget about Zera Shimshon because people were constantly reminding me of it with their phone calls. But apart from that first story that took place in Manchester, I hadn’t had additional personal confirmation about the power that R’ Nachman’s sefer and promise possessed. I was eager to hear what this man had to tell me.
“When can I see you?” he asked.
“We can meet in Boro Park tonight,” I told him.
We met that evening, and R’ Paskesz presented me with the newest editions of both Zera Shimshon and Toldos Shimshon. He was brimming over with stories about these very special sefarim, and I could see how important he felt they were for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
“You have to write another piece about this sefer.” He was very insistent. “It’s imperative that everyone knows how amazing this is!”
“Tell me, then. How did it all begin?”
The story began over 21 years ago in Williamsburg. R’ Naftali Elimelech Wagschal, shlita, had been married for over seven years at the time and was waiting desperately for a yeshuah. It was Shabbos afternoon when he discovered the sefer in one of the local Williamsburg shtieblach. It was an edition of Zera Shimshon that had been printed by R’ Reuven Scharf many years earlier.
The sefer was old and faded, but the inscription and the author’s promise jumped out at him with the force of lightning. He knew that he’d struck gold. Excited beyond words, R’ Wagschal visited the Kashau Rav zt”l, to ask his advice. He showed the rav the sefer, and the author’s berachah, and asked whether he should invest the time and resources necessary to reprint Zera Shimshon in a format that would enable the average individual to understand and connect with the sefer.
The rav encouraged R’ Wagschal in this formidable task and instructed him to collect money from people who had not yet been blessed with children in turning the project into a reality.
The task was arduous.
It would take R’ Wagschal four years and tens of thousands of dollars before the first 1,000 sets were ready for distribution.
But there is something hidden within the sefer that draws people to it. That makes them desire to have it in their homes. Since that first reprinting, R’ Wagschal has reprinted Zera Shimshon another four times, for a total of 5,000 sets. He is now working on another edition, in which the sefer will be divided into four sections instead of two, which will make it even easier to learn from.
And by the way, the Wagschals have been blessed with a large family, baruch Hashem.
Many people have learned from the sefer and been blessed with children. A young couple from Boro Park were desperate for a child when they heard about the sefer and R’ Nachmani’s promise to intercede on their behalf. The husband learned from the sefer for a year, and they were blessed with their firstborn son on the sixth of Elul – which just happens to be the yahrzeit of R’ Nachmani, author of Zera Shimshon!
Time passed, and the couple began longing for another child. The husband undertook to learn from the sefer for another year. Nine months later, he was blessed with son number two.
But the segulah is not only effective in the area of having children. There was a 28-year old bachur from New York who was having extreme difficulty in finding a shidduch. It was as if the lines to Heaven were down. Nothing worked. One day, he heard about the sefer and the author’s promise. He began learning from the sefer, hoping for salvation. Three months later he was engaged.
Another young man, 24, had been listening to suggestions for prospective matches for years. It was as if there was a brick wall standing between him and his wedding. The family had spoken to everyone and tried everything. Then he heard about Zera Shimshon. He started learning the sefer. Two weeks later, he was a chassan.
R’ Wagschal had a neighbor who had been married for four years but had not yet been blessed with children. One day, the two neighbors happened to get into conversation, and the man asked R’ Wagschal for advice.
“Here’s what I suggest,” R’ Wagschal said. “Buy two boxes of Zera Shimshon, 20 sets in all, and distribute them in different shuls all over Williamsburg.”
The man took his advice. He purchased the sets of sefarim and made his rounds to 20 different Williamsburg shuls, leaving a set of Zera Shimshon in each one.
Three months later, he called R’ Wagschal with good news. But the simchah didn’t end there. Today he’s the father of a large family.
I sat right next to R’ Paskesz in the Agudah of 18th Avenue after Ma’ariv that night and listened as he told me story after story extolling the extraordinary gift bestowed upon Klal Yisrael by R’ Shimshon Nachmani. It boggled the imagination.
I had written a story years earlier that had been read by people around the world. The Jewish people are not like other nations. We are believers and we take these things seriously. Upon reading the story, many rushed out to buy Zera Shimshon. I knew that it had been reprinted and that there was a renewed demand for the all-but-forgotten sefer. But I hadn’t known about the miracles that had been taking place all over the world…
“And the stories are not just about people who are experiencing difficulties having children or finding their bashert,” R’ Paskesz went on. “Zera Shimshon is a segulah for people with health issues as well.”
“Give me an example.”
“Well, the first time you wrote about Zera Shimshon, it was a story about a man from Manchester who was sick and needed a refuah sheleimah.”
“And apart from that one?”
“I can tell you a tremendous story that I heard recently.”
“A middle-aged couple from New York went to the doctor to show him a growth that had suddenly appeared on his wife’s nose. The doctor took it very seriously and sent her for consultations with some very fine doctors, all experts in the field. All concurred that they needed to operate. They agreed on a tentative date for the operation, and at the same time, the husband decided to begin learning Zera Shimshon.
“Four weeks later, the couple returned to the specialist for a final checkup before the scheduled surgery. When the doctor examined the wife, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“ ‘I don’t know what happened since the last time we saw each other, but everything has changed. There is no growth, and no reason for surgery. It’s a miracle!’
“The only unusual element in those dramatic few weeks was the fact that the husband had begun learning Zera Shimshon. Take it as you wish.”
A young man living in Monroe had been married for four years, but he and his wife were still childless. Somewhere along the line he was introduced to R’ Wagschal, who asked him to donate $1,000 in sponsorship of one parashah in the upcoming edition of Zera Shimshon. The young man agreed.
One month later, the young family’s situation had completely turned around. Today the man is father to nine children. He donated $300 as a deposit in honor of his mother’s yahrtzeit for the latest reprinting of the sefer and hopes to donate considerably more when they’re ready to go to print.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The parents of four children were experiencing shalom bayis problems, when the husband began helping to distribute Toldos Shimshon to different shuls around their neighborhood. Their salvation was not long in coming.
“Who says the sefer is meant just for people who are undergoing a hardship of some kind?” continued R’ Paskesz. “I know successful businessmen in our community, people involved in megadeals, who make sure to learn Zera Shimshon before finalizing the details of their contracts. They tell me that doing so brings them great success.
“After your original article on Zera Shimshon was published, a childless couple read the story in the newspaper, went out and purchased the sefer, and saw a yeshuah not long afterward. Today they are the proud parents of a number of children.
“The father was so moved by this experience, and so filled with gratitude to the Ribbono Shel Olam, that he made sure to tell anyone he could think of whom the sefer could possibly help. While sitting in the doctor’s office a while later, he happened to run into a couple from Lakewood who were having difficulty starting a family. Within minutes, the father was telling them about Zera Shimshon. The couple purchased the sefer immediately and were blessed with a child a year later.”
“All this,” R’ Paskesz concluded, “is just the beginning. I am affiliated with Mafteach Shel Bonim, a wonderfully selfless organization that dedicates much time and many resources to helping couples around the globe. We are planning a giant seudah in both Eretz Yisrael and the United States on the sixth of Elul, the yahrtzeit of R’ Nachmani, author of Zera Shimshon and Toldos Shimshon. I have no doubt that we will hear many more miraculous stories of personal deliverance on numerous fronts, which we will be sure to publicize.
“May all who are involved in this sefer, either through learning it or through helping it reach as many people as possible, be granted the things they sorely need, as promised by Rav Nachmani in his introduction to his legendary sefer. There have been so many salvations! May we have the privilege of seeing the blessings continue until all of Klal Yisrael is learning this important sefer.
We parted from each other with feelings of mutual friendship. How could I not feel warmth and admiration for a person who had dedicated so much of his time and energy to helping Klal Yisrael?
Zera Shimshon is a gift. A special present from Hashem. Obviously, this sefer is not meant to replace our davening. On the contrary, R’ Nachmani has provided us with a completely unique channel of tefillah. He was grateful to any person who learned his Torah and was willing to go to great lengths to help that person. And he did. And he does. Learning Zera Shimshon is like having a truly influential friend intercede for you in the corridors of power, just when you need it most. It’s like being able to hire and afford the best, most expensive lawyer in the world. This gift is truly something to take advantage of.
Hashem put resources of many kinds in His world. It’s up to us to avail ourselves of them.
(Reproduced from I Have an Amazing Story for You! by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer pages 39 – 46, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)