#440 (s5766-30 / 28 Nisan 5766)

A Visit to Paris

"Since only I among us speak French, I will speak," announced Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch.

A Visit to Paris

No one knew what lay behind it all: Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the Maharash, simply said that he had to make the journey to Paris. In addition to his two regular attendants, he was accompanied as well by two wealthy chasidim, Reb Monye Monisohn and Reb Yeshayahu Berlin.

When they arrived at the city and Reb Yeshayahu asked the rebbe where they were going to lodge, he answered: "In the Alexander Hotel."

Now this was one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, frequented by visiting ministers of state and members of the nobility.

The rebbe went on: "Since you're something of a rube and do not speak French, I will speak to the people there."

At the desk the rebbe asked for a good suite, and when he was offered one for 200 francs a day, seemingly quite an exorbitant tariff, he surprisingly asked for a better one. In fact, he requested a suite on the same floor as the gambling rooms. He was warned that the one remaining three-room suite there was even more expensive, but he took it all the same, while his two wealthy chasidim took rooms in a different hotel, because of the prohibitive cost.

A few hours later Rabbi Shmuel went to the betting parlor! There he took a seat next to a young man who was playing cards and refreshing himself from time to time with a sip of wine.

The rebbe rested his hand on the card player's shoulder and said: "Young man! It is forbidden to drink non-kosher wine,"

A few moments later he added: "Non-kosher wine dulls the spiritual sensitivity of the mind and the heart. Behave like a Jew!"

Then, saying Shalom, he left the room in great agitation. Reb Yeshayahu Berlin later reported that he had never seen the rebbe in such a state.

Some hours later the young man came around to enquire after the person who had spoken to him earlier. He was shown into the rebbe's room, where he stayed for a long time. And the very next day the rebbe set out on the return journey to Lubavitch in northern Russia.

On his return the rebbe said: "A soul as pure as this has not descended to This World for quite some generations - but unfortunately it fell into the depths of impurity."

In the course of time that young man became a ba'al teshuva with all his being, and eventually became the head of a G-d-fearing family of good name.

[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by our esteemed colleague Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.]

Biographic Note:
Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (2 Iyar 1834-13 Tishrei 1882), the fourth Lubavitch Rebbe, known as "the Rebbe Maharash," was the seventh and youngest son of his predecessor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, "the Tsemach Tsedek".

Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

back to Top   back to Index   Stories home page
Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION