The Chafetz Chaim and the Wagoners
The Shalom Aleichem hymn is sung upon returning home from the Synagogue on Friday night and finding one’s home set in a festive Shabbos atmosphere, A Good Angel declares, ‘May it be [God’s] will that it also be so next Sabbath.’ But if the home is not enveloped in the Shabbos mood, and there is G-d forbid, tension and strife in the home, that compels the good angel to answer ‘Amen’ to the evil angel’s declaration ‘May it be [God’s] will that it also be so next Sabbath.’
This small incident involving Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen Kagan zt’l, the famed Chafetz Chaim illustrates the importance of entering the Shabbos in peace and serenity.
THE CHAFETZ CHAIM AND THE WAGONER’S
The wagoner returned from the beth midrash and began to hum the “Shalom Aleichem” (Sabbath chant) in a sad tone, which was very unusual for him. He paced his house in a nervous and irritable manner. He had argued with his wife before going to the beth midrash: and he couldn’t muster up his usual cheerful expression to say “Shalom Aleichem” joyously.
How surprised he was when the door opened and in walked Rabbi Israel Meir, (as the Chafetz Chaim was called by the towns people). It was obvious that the famous rabbi knew about the argument between the wagoner and his wife. The Chafetz Chaim had come to return domestic tranquility to the wagoner’s home. He spoke a great deal until the couple was reconciled, and a smile of happiness spread across the tired face of the wagoner.
And when the Chafetz Chaim left the house the wagoner finished the song “Shalom Aleichem” with joy in his heart.
(The Hafetz Hayyim, His Life and Work, Volume I, p. 100)