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Dvar Malchus

In But A Moment

Moshiach & Geula

"That They May All Call Upon the Name of the L-rd"

Chai Elul
In Honor Or In Chains

"Wake Up, Yidele!"

Chabad House On Wheels: "The Real Action Is Here"
Shleimus HaAretz
Pray For Rain

In Honor Or In Chains
By Shlomo HaYitzchaki

A compilation of stories depicting the hiskashrus and bittul of Chassidim to their Rebbeim, and the precision of every word a Rebbe utters – in honor of Chai Elul

"Didn’t You Tell Me to Move to Town?"

The Alter Rebbe related: I was once traveling home after visiting my Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch. It was the wintertime, and it was so cold that my feet froze. We arrived at an inn owned by a Jew, and the wagon driver carried me into the inn. The innkeeper was an elderly, G-d-fearing man. He rubbed my feet with snow and spirits until the blood began to flow there once more. I asked him, "How many years have you been here?" He answered that he had been living there for over fifty years. When asked whether he had a minyan for davening, the innkeeper said he had no minyan and that he traveled to the nearby town for the Yomim Nora’im.

"Is it right for an old man like you to daven all your life without a minyan and without a shul, without hearing Kedusha and Barchu? Why don’t you move to the town?"

Said the old man, "How will I support myself?"

"How many people live in the town?" I asked.

"About a hundred," he replied.

I said, "If Hashem can support a hundred Jews, couldn’t He support you, too?" I also told him, "You should know sir, that I am the student of our great Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch."

The man turned and left. Within half an hour, I saw wagons laden with boxes, household goods and a variety of personal effects near the inn. "What is all that?" I asked him.

"Didn’t you tell me to move to town?" he stated simply.

And now, concluded the Alter Rebbe, look at the faith of that old man. Although I was a young man at the time, and the old man had supported himself comfortably at that inn for fifty years, he threw it all away and picked up and left.

(Sippurei Chassidim)


To Grasp the Doorknob

The Alter Rebbe once said, "Ver es hot gehalten mein klamke, vet nisht shtarben un teshuva." (Whoever [so much as] held on to my doorknob, will not die without doing teshuva.)

The Rebbe Rayatz is quoted as saying that this refers to someone who davens b’Nusach Ari.

In Lubavitch I heard the following explanation from the famous Chassid, R’ Meshulam Kuras. He said that "holding on to the doorknob" even refers to someone who did not yet enter the Rebbe’s room, one who merely wishes to enter.

* * *

There was a Jew in Liozna who was completely non-religious. Once, he held on to the doorknob of the Alter Rebbe’s room. He prided himself on that, saying, "I won’t die without doing teshuva, for I held on to the Rebbe’s doorknob!"

One Shabbos he went to shul and was honored with an aliya l’Torah. After making the bracha on the Torah he broke into intense sobbing and then died, having done true teshuva.

(Likkutei Sippurim)


To the Letter

One of the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim was walking down the street when he found a letter written by the Alter Rebbe to one of the Chassidim. Upon reading it he was shocked to learn of a terrible secret regarding one of his fellow Chassidim. He was even more shaken when he read in the margin that after reading the page, the person should tear up the letter and burn it at once.

The Chassid was upset over his friend’s rashness in evidently not fulfilling what the Rebbe had told him to do, namely to destroy the note, so he rushed over to admonish him. When his friend heard what had happened, he too was greatly taken aback since as soon as he had finished reading the letter he had gone over to the stove and had thrown in the letter. Before the paper had had a chance to catch fire, a draft of hot air must have lifted it up and blown it out the chimney!

"See how precise the Rebbe’s words are," said the mashpia R’ Shmuel Grunem, who related the story. "If the Rebbe said to tear the letter up and burn it, he should have done just that, and not relied only on burning it. If the Chassid had followed the Rebbe’s directions to the letter, this would never have happened!"

(Shmuos V’Sippurim)


The Early Chassidim are Oleh Regel

The Chassidim of the Alter Rebbe would walk to the Rebbe for Yom Tov, accompanied by a wagonload of their belongings pulled by oxen. They walked the entire way, and as they passed through towns and villages, more Chassidim joined them. The group grew and grew until it was quite large.

They were in extremely high spirits, as is typical of Chassidim en route to their Rebbe, and a babble of sounds could be heard, including melodies of Chassidic joy and longing. Thus they walked, step by step, until they arrived in Liozna.

As they approached the town, their excitement grew and they sang and danced with all their might, and even adorned the horns of the oxen with foliage to increase the joy and honor of the occasion.

When the Rebbe came out to greet them, he nodded and said, "This causes great pleasure Above, pleasure akin to when the first fruits were brought [to the Holy Temple]."

(Likkutei Sippurim)


Across the River

On one of the trips the Maggid made accompanied by his holy brotherhood, the Maggid decided to stop at an inn to sleep that night. The innkeeper greeted them warmly and happily, prepared a bountiful repast for them, as well as comfortable beds for them all.

Before going to sleep, the innkeeper approached the Maggid and told him that he had wanted for a long time to go to Mezritch in order to ask the Rebbe’s advice about an urgent matter. Now that the Rebbe himself had come to him, he wanted to ask his counsel, for certainly the Rebbe would give him good advice.

The Maggid referred the host to his student, the Alter Rebbe, and said, "He is wondrously wise. The soul of the Rambam lies within him, and he will merit to have a son like me – do what he says!"

The innkeeper dutifully approached the Alter Rebbe and said, "I have earned a livelihood from this inn for many years, but they have just taxed me tremendously and are now demanding a very high rent. I want to know whether I should leave this inn and move to a different inn, a better one on the other side of the river."

The Rebbe agreed that he should move to the other inn, in the spirit of the dictum, "meshaneh makom, meshaneh mazal l’tova u’livracha" (a change of place bring about a change in one’s fortune to one of goodness and blessing).

The next morning, when the Alter Rebbe awoke, he saw that the innkeeper was standing and waiting in the middle of a bare inn. There were no people, no tables, chairs, or anything else! The innkeeper explained: he had learned that according to the Sages, mimenu eitza (get advice from him) means that as soon as one receives advice it should be carried out without delay. Therefore, as soon as he heard the Rebbe’s counsel, he packed everything up and moved it all across the river. The other members of the brotherhood had crossed the river already, and he was waiting to take the Rebbe across.

The Rebbe went with him on the ferry. Crossing the river, they saw a giant bolt of lightening followed by a tremendous clap of thunder, and watched the old inn go up in flames.

(Migdal Oz)


In Honor or in Chains

In the city of Chernigov lived a famous Jew, who was wise, learned, and distinguished. He lived in a beautiful mansion in wealth and honor, yet he was quite punctilious when it came to mitzva observance.

One day, people heard that one of the noblemen had slandered the rich Jew as well as another wealthy man, saying that they had cheated on their taxes to the tune of some very large sums, and would be facing serious charges. The Jews of the city did what they could, but to no avail. The two were arrested, and despite the efforts of their defense team, they were sentenced to several years of exile in Siberia.

Before being exiled, the rich man sent a messenger to Rabbi Dovid Tzvi Chein, then rav of the city, and asked to meet with him. When the rav came to visit him in jail, the man wept bitterly and said, "I admit I did wrong. I am called a Chassid because I use a Chabad siddur, but the time I have spent in jail has opened my eyes to see that a Chassid is someone who has faith in the Rebbe.

"Over three years ago, when I traveled to Petersburg first class, as I usually do, one of the conductors who knows me came over and told me that the famous Rabbi Schneerson was also traveling first class. He offered to open the door so that I could meet with him.

"I trembled upon seeing the Rebbe’s holy face, and stood there in fear. The Rebbe sensed this and immediately looked at me with a look of warmth and affection. He indicated that I should come closer and sit down, and he opened a golden box of cigarettes and said, ‘You smoke – take a cigarette.’ His smiling face and warm gaze calmed me.

"The Rebbe spoke to me as one speaks to a friend. He asked for details about my spiritual and material circumstances, how I conducted my household, and about my frequent trips. He asked about my friends and acquaintances and questioned me about so many details that I nearly forgot with whom I sat.

"Suddenly, in the middle of talking, the Rebbe stopped for a few moments and then said, ‘You find yourself in the palaces of ministers, and you certainly know that the government is planning to build iron railroad tracks in Siberia. By consulting with your friends, the ministers, you can get the job of constructing the railroad on good terms.’

"The Rebbe stopped speaking. I nodded my head; the Rebbe did too, as though saying goodbye, and I returned to my seat. The truth is that I sat there stunned for a long time, since I did not understand the last thing he had said to me. I couldn’t understand why he would tell a wealthy man to move to Siberia and do hard work which I wasn’t accustomed to doing.

"Due to my great sins I did not take his words seriously, and now look at me! Fool that I am! I was so dense! I had the privilege and honor to meet with the Rebbe and receive his warning. If only I had had simple faith in the tzaddik, I would have had the Midrash about Yaakov fulfilled in me. The Midrash says that Yaakov Avinu was destined to go down to Mitzrayim in iron chains, but Yosef HaTzaddik preceded him and he made his way there instead with honor. I was such a fool for not paying attention to what the tzaddik saw. He knew I would go to Siberia and he had pity on me and wanted me to go with honor. Now, I am going in chains."

(Shmuos V’Sippurim, Vol. 3)


Since You Were Once Connected To Me

Much to the horror of the Chassidim who witnessed the fated scene, the Alter Rebbe was arrested and taken away in a black wagon by armed soldiers, as one who is sentenced to death. A Chassid from Stadov saw and fainted on the spot, and although people tried to revive him by rubbing him, calling his name, and pouring water on him, they could not arouse him. He was in great danger.

Finally one Chassid had an idea. He suggested screaming into his ear that the Rebbe had been released and had gone home. Perhaps this would wake him up out of his faint. This they did — and it worked.

When he came to and discovered that the Rebbe was still under arrest, he did not faint again although he was very broken by the news. He determined to fast every day. (One of the enactments of the Chassidim at that time was for everyone except the sick and halachically exempt to fast every Monday and Thursday, but he decided to fast every day.)

On the 18th of Kislev, the day before Yud-Tes Kislev (when the Rebbe was released), the Chassid was fasting as he usually did. Towards evening, the night of Yud-Tes Kislev and the yahrtzeit of the Maggid of Mezritch, the Chassidim held a farbrengen and drank mashke. The Chassid was very tired and didn’t have the strength to farbreng with the Chassidim, and fell asleep in shul.

He dreamed about R’ Menachem Mendel of Horodok, who said to him, "Although you are mekushar to the Alter Rebbe and not to me, since you were once mekushar to me, I will tell you a secret. Only Chassidim who are truly mekushar to their Rebbe, merit the Rebbe coming to them and revealing what is going on up Above.

"Today is the yom hilula of the Rav HaMaggid, and on his yom hilula, the tzaddik says divrei Torah and all the neshamos come from their respective chambers to listen to him."

R’ Mendel listed the various neshamos who came to hear Torah from the Maggid, describing the order in which they sat. The Baal Shem Tov sat to the right of the Maggid, and the Arizal on his left, etc. The Maggid spoke, then concluding his talk, burst into tears and said, "My student, R’ Zalman, is sitting in jail, and all of Chassidus is in danger. I am asking all of you for a favor."

Suddenly Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai came and arranged a beis din which concluded that the Alter Rebbe would be freed. All this was told to the Chassid by R’ Menachem Mendel Horodoker in his dream.

News of the Alter Rebbe’s release first reached Stadov a week later, for in those days there were no telegrams or telephones; the mail was transported by horse. That is why it took a week until the news from Petersburg came to Stadov. The Rebbe was released on Tuesday, and the news arrived the following Tuesday. Although the official news was delayed by a week, they fasted that week b’simcha.

(Shmuos V’Sippurim, Vol. 3)



The Maggid referred the host to his student, the Alter Rebbe, and said, "He is wondrously wise. The soul of the Rambam lies within him, and he will merit to have a son like me – do what he says!"






I sat there stunned for a long time, since I did not understand the last thing he had said to me. I couldn’t understand why he would tell a wealthy man to move to Siberia and do hard work...




The Baal Shem Tov sat to the right of the Maggid, and the Arizal on his left... The Maggid burst into tears and said, "My student,

R’ Zalman, is sitting in jail, and all of Chassidus is in danger. I am asking all of you for a favor..."



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