#545 (s5768-35 / 1 Iyar 5768)

Sniffing the Best

The Rebbe Maharash, when he entered the synagogue of Rabbi Sholom of Belz, did his best to remain incognito.

Sniffing the Best

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the "Maharash," in the years before he became Rebbe, did his best to keep a low profile. Once, when he was on a trip to Europe, he dressed as an ordinary businessman, rather than the chasidic garb more appropriate to the son of a rebbe and a profound Torah scholar in his own right.

One Shabbat during his journey, he spent in Belz. At the time of the Third Meal he went to the famed synagogue of Rabbi Sar Shalom of Belz (which the Rebbe had finished building with his own hands in 1843-see drawing, right. But that's another story!).Still incognito, he stood off to the side in a remote corner of the room, which by then was crammed from wall to wall with ardent Chasidim awaiting the entrance of their Rebbe.

When Rabbi Shalom at last entered, a path directly from the door to his chair at the head of the table opened before him, like the splitting of the Reed Sea. He took a few steps then suddenly halted. He didn't look around because at that stage in his life he was blind, but he began to inhale the air. "I smell something special," he announced.

He turned and walked slowly in the direction of the Maharash, the whole time continuing to sniff. When he reached him he took his hand and said, "Young man! From me, one cannot hide." He then took the young Maharash with him to the head of the table.

On the way, a few of the Chasidim, who suspected that the Rebbe had made a mistake due to his failed eyesight, whispered to him, "Rebbe, our Master, this guy is just a businessman."

The Belzer smiled and said, "True, he is indeed a merchant. And his merchandise is the best of all."**

[Translated and adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chasidim, Moadim p302. All rights reserved to the translator and to Ascent-of-Safed. Do not reprint without permission.]

** Editor's note:
From the opening stanza of the "Sisu v'simchu" hymn that we sing after the Torah reading on the Simchat Torah festival (and perhaps also a paraphrase of the verse in Eishet Chayil [Prov. 31:9] that we sing on Friday nights).

Biographic Notes:
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".

Rabbi Sar Shalom of Belz [1779 - 27 Elul 1855] was the first of the Belz chasidic dynasty. He became the main rebbe of Jewry, and had tens of thousands of chasidim. His teachings are collected in Dover Shalom.

Yerachmiel 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, and many have been translated into other languages.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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