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Drunk With Joy To See The Jew From Chassnick
By E. Lesches

Conscription was the nightmare of every Jewish parent with grown children. In the times of the Tzemach Tzedek, the Czarist government had put a cruel decree in force, whereby Jewish children were forcibly conscripted and kept in the army for many years. Once there, the Jewish children faced a great deal of anti-Semitism, torture, and harassment. Various means were used to tear these children away from their heritage.

People tried everything and anything to escape the draft. Parents used whatever influence they had to have their children’s’ names erased from the draft list. Children would slightly maim themselves or use other strange methods to fail the medical examination that preceded acceptance into the army. Chassidim, of course, traveled to their rebbeim for advice and blessing.

It thus happened that a certain Chabad Chassid from Chessnick traveled to Lubavitch to seek the blessing of the Tzemach Tzedek. His two sons — one eighteen the other twenty-one — were faced with a terrible choice. They were both considered scholarly young men, well versed in Torah, and had just received notice that one of them would be conscripted into the army. After trying unsuccessfully to get them exempted, the distraught father traveled quickly to Lubavitch for the Rebbe’s blessing. He entered yechidus and related the misfortune that had befallen them.

"So what do you want from me?" said the Tzemach Tzedek. "Am I a government minister?"

The Chassid burst into tears. A blessing from the Rebbe was his only hope, yet now the Rebbe was turning him away. "I don’t understand why the Rebbe is distancing himself from me," he said. "I am bound to the Rebbe like the most zealous of Chassidim."

"And who says you are truly bound to me?"

"Well," ventured the Chassid, "I was in Lubavitch last year and this year, and I have committed to memory all the maamarim I heard from the Rebbe."

The Tzemach Tzedek began testing the Chassid on various themes he had discussed in the maamarim of the past year, and the Chassid provided clear responses to every question. Evidently, he had spent much time learning and reviewing the Rebbe’s teachings, until he knew them fluently. The Tzemach Tzedek finished testing his Chassid and sat quietly for some time, lost in thought. "G-d will help to save your sons," he finally said. The Chassid’s strong attachment to Chassidus had brought him a blessing.

"You will travel to Liepli," the Rebbe continued. "There is a certain Jew there who has dealings in these matters and is an expert on how to evade the draft. He will help you through the entire process of redeeming your sons. Go to his house as soon as you reach Liepli."

"But this Jew has no idea who I am!" the Chassid exclaimed.

"What are you worried about?" responded the Rebbe. "He’ll recognize you and help you with whatever you need."

The Chassid stepped out of yechidus a changed man. His driver harnessed the horses and soon the carriage was rolling toward Liepli. The driver handled his horses carefully as dusk gave way to complete darkness. Only a silvery moon remained to illuminate the countryside. The Chassid did not even entertain the notion of waiting until daybreak — the Rebbe had instructed him to travel, so he would do it immediately.

The carriage reached Liepli in the wee hours of the morning and headed straight toward the address supplied by the Rebbe. Naturally, the doors of the courtyard were locked for the night, forcing the Chassid to cool his heels until the new day dawned. He stood outdoors for some time and, when he heard the sound of someone stirring, pounded loudly on the door. "Let me in!" he bellowed. "I must see the master of the house."

He heard the sound of a key turning in the lock and a bedraggled head appeared. "What is it?" the weary servant asked.

"I must see the master of the house immediately," repeated the Chassid.

The servant scratched his head. "The master is still sleeping," he said. "Come in anyway and sit in the house. He should be up soon."

The Chassid entered and sat down on a chair in the hallway. Suddenly he heard loud cries coming from the main bedroom. "G-d of the Universe, what is going on here?" someone screamed repeatedly. Apparently, the master was totally inebriated. The door of the bedroom was flung open and a disheveled figure stood in the doorway. "Ay!" screamed the host, "What is happening?" He shot out of the room and began running around the house, screaming and hollering, totally ignoring his bewildered guest. "Ay! Ay!" he repeated, clutching his head in despair.

Suddenly the host spied the Chassid sitting in the hallway. Immediately he stopped his ranting and hurried over, pumping the Chassid’s hand vigorously. "Welcome, welcome," he said excitedly. "Where are you from?"


"Yes! Chassnick!" The host began clapping his hands and danced dizzily around the room. "Chassnick, Chassnick," he sang, grabbing a chair and twirling it around his head. "Chassnick, la la la, Chassnick."

By now the Chassid was sure that his host was either deranged or hopelessly drunk. His host continued dancing until, exhausted and panting with exertion, he sat down near the Chassid. "I know you think I’m crazy," he said. "Only a crazy person would start dancing for no reason, right? Well, I’ll tell you something that will explain everything. Listen:

"I am a Chassid of the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek. I have not seen the Rebbe for five years. Last night, the Rebbe appeared to me in a dream and warned me in stern tones to help "the Jew from Chassnick." I woke up in total confusion. I knew no one from Chassnick, I had not seen the Rebbe all these years — maybe it was all foolishness? I had hardly resumed sleeping when the Rebbe appeared again, remonstrating me to "help the Jew from Chassnick." The dream reoccurred throughout the night, and you can understand what kind of shape I was in when I got up. Now do you understand my initial shock, my initial confusion? Now do you understand why I’m so happy you come from Chassnick? Anyway, what can I do for you?"

The Chassid recounted his predicament and asked his host to help save these Jewish boys from conscription. "This is a very complicated matter," the host said, furrowing his brow. "However, with the help of Hashem and of the Rebbe, we’ll succeed in the best possible manner. Come, let’s eat something first."

The host drank some tea, davened quickly, and set out for the conscription office. He returned after midday, his face beaming with joy. "No reason to fear," he announced to the startled Chassid. "Success is ours! Your sons will not be called again for many years; at that time they will be too old for army service anyway."

The Chassid thanked his host gratefully and returned home. From then on, whenever someone mentioned the holiness of the Tzemach Tzedek, the Chassid would relate his personal story with tears streaming from his eyes.

(See Sippurim Nora’im p. 106)


"You will travel to Liepli," the Rebbe continued. "There is a certain Jew there who has dealings in these matters and is an expert on how to evade the draft..."







"Yes! Chassnick!" The host began clapping his hands and danced dizzily around the room...

By now the Chassid was sure that his host was either deranged or hopelessly drunk.


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