Once Reb Shimon learned an important lesson about the power of simple prayer from his Rebbe. When his young son fell dangerously ill, Reb Shimon ran to the Rebbe, begging him to pray for the boy’s recovery. But Rebbe Nachman didn’t answer…he just stood there, silent. Reb Shimon returned home to attend to his ailing child.
That night, the boy reached a crisis—he was literally struggling for his life. His distraught parents could do nothing to help him. At that moment, Reb Shimon’s wife stood up and called out to Heaven, “Master of the universe! Father! My Father in Heaven! See my pain, see the child’s suffering! Have mercy on us and heal him!”
The next day at dawn, Reb Shimon knocked at Rebbe Nachman’s door again, asking him to pray for the child.
Rebbe Nachman ran to the door to greet him. “See the greatness of a simple prayer and how powerful it is!” the Rebbe cried. “The child’s life was already over by Heavenly decree, yet your wife’s fervent prayer drew down a complete recovery for your son! And not only that, but she managed to draw down for him many good years. He’s going to live a good, long life!”
Indeed, the child recovered completely, and lived to the age of nearly one hundred!
Reb Shimon himself lived a long life as well, finishing out his years in the holy city of Tzefat. At a certain point, he had to return to Europe to arrange a match for one of his sons. He arrived in Ukraine not long before Shavuot, and naturally traveled to Breslov to spend the festival with his fellow chassidim.
Reb Shimon had been Rebbe Nachman’s first and oldest follower, but when he saw Reb Noson essentially leading the new and long-time chassidim, he was amazed by Reb Noson’s purity and holiness. He exclaimed, “I thought that Reb Noson was only a student of Rebbe Nachman, but now I see that he is really a rebbe in his own right! And I should know, because I set aside all of the tzaddikim of my time and attached myself to a young boy before he was even married. I know a tzaddik when I see one!”
Based on Or HaOrot I, pp. 127-128, 136-137