Today this distinction is hereditary but, in the 19th century, becoming a famous miracle-worker rabbi with a court of followers who treated you like a king, was not an easy task. Particularly, if you were incapable of working the most insignificant miracle. And even more if you were not even circumcised because you were a goy, a non-Jew. But when Lech Ludica proposed something, there was no insurmountable obstacle.
He started by letting his beard grow as well as his sideburns, which he wrapped around his ears. He also bought a black caftan and a shtreimel (a fur hat worn by Hasidim). He then adopted the name of Jakob Eiger and infiltrated the court of Rabbi Elijah Guttmacher of Grätz, the famous miracle-worker. Since he didn’t speak a single word of Yiddish, at first he pretended to be mute. But with the passing of time and long hours of study, he picked up an acceptable Yiddish. Then he started speaking. Naturally, people were amazed: «Look at Jakob, he was mute and now he chats like crazy». The rumour started spreading among the Hasidim that it was a self- service miracle. And that’s how Lech Ludica, aka Jakob Eiger, became a miracle-worker rabbi overnight.
Once you acquired that reputation, everything was easy. Anything you did or did not do would be interpreted as a miracle, so you didn’t have to work hard. A growing number of happy and confident young people began to gather around you, and that is how you came to have a “court” of your own. Your fame increased like a snowball thrown downhill.
When his fame was well established, Rabbi Eiger was presented with a delicate case. A woman from Lublin brought to him her son a few years old with the hope that he would be cured. The child had been declared terminally ill by the doctors. Rabbi Eiger laid his hands on the child’s head and recited a passage from the Torah, and with this the woman left satisfied. But the rabbi was not satisfied at all. That night, he could not fall asleep. At midnight he got up and went to the synagogue. Some of his young followers from distant places were sleeping in the banks. One of them woke up and saw the rabbi go noiselessly to the Torah Ark. He remained there for a while with his head down, then he left. It seemed to the young man that tears had run down his cheeks.
After a few days, Rabbi Eiger received a letter from Lublin in which he was informed of the child’s sudden healing. The doctors said it was a miracle.