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Oct 23, 2019

Reb Shayale the Exterminator

Reb Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir, also known as the Kerestir Rebbe, or Reb Shayale Kerestir, has become known as "The Mouse Rabbi". People put up his picture in their houses as segula to rid the house of mice and rats.
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The story goes that he told a follower of his to hang his picture to rid the house of mice and it supposedly worked. Whether the story actually happened or not is beside the point, and it is under dispute by family members. Either way, the legend took off and nowadays many people hang the famous picture of Reb Shayale Kerestir to get rid of an infestation of mice.

Personally I always thought this was a weird legacy to leave behind, and I am sure how would have preferred to be remembered for his teachings and his Torah and dedication to God and to his community rather than to be remembered as an exterminator. On the other hand, at the same time, I wondered if perhaps he would be happy knowing he is helping Jews by easing their frustration and discomfort by ridding them of mice, despite the strange legacy and the perhaps diminished historic role from Torah scholar and leader to exterminator. I guess it is not for me to decide on this matter, but it did seem strange to me.

Interestingly, YWN is reporting about a Hassidic concert that took place over Sukkos Chol Hamoed that has led to outrage. The Hassidic singer same some song about Reb Shayale Kerestir and the video board displayed mice running across the screen until his image came up and then the mice disappeared. Strange.

According to the article, people are suddenly outraged by this degradation of the honor of Reb Shayale, treating him as nothing more than an exterminator. I don't get why it has been ok until now for so many in frum communities around the world to use his picture this way and only when it went up ont he video it became a problem.

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