#562 (s5768-52 / 2 Elul 5768)

The Innocent Tattletale Teacher

His employer did not like the idea of his "rabbi" going to another "rabbi" and leaving at this time.

The Innocent Tattletale Teacher

One of the chasidim of the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was a young teacher who taught the children of a simple, uneducated villager.

The villager considered the teacher his "rabbi." When Elul, the month before Rosh Hashana arrived, the teacher told the villager that it was his yearly custom to visit the Rebbe for the High Holidays.

"I will return after the High Holy Days, with G-d's help," he said.

The villager was disturbed. He did not like the idea of his rabbi going to another rabbi and leaving at this time. Anyway, he had assumed the teacher would remain to conduct the services for the High Holy Days.

The teacher patiently explained to the villager that Rabbi Shneur Zalman was no ordinary rabbi, but the head of many rabbis, comparable to the "head" which tells the rest of the body what to do.

The villager listened with interest, then suddenly exclaimed: "Alright. If it's good for you to go to your rabbi, the Rebbe, then I'll go along too!"

The villager prepared his things, readied his horse and buggy, and off they went to visit Rabbi Shneur Zalman. When they arrived at the study hall, they found a large crowd of chasidim already standing in line, awaiting their turn for a personal, private audience with the Rebbe.

The villager was a little bewildered, but he decided to join the people in line and took his place at the end of the line. When the villager's turn came to enter the Rebbe's study, he went in but remained silent, not knowing what he was supposed to say or do.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman looked at the newcomer, considered him quietly for a few moments, then gently said: "Nu?" ("Well?")

The villager still said nothing.

The Rebbe again said: "Nu?"

"Why do you keep on saying 'Nu'?" retorted the villager impatiently.

The Rebbe regarded the ignorant villager kindly and replied: "It sometimes happens that a Jew does certain wrong things, thoughtlessly or unintentionally, not realizing that they were bad and sinful. For example..." And here Rabbi Shneur Zalman went on to give some such instances, all of which just happened to fit some of the villager's failings!

The villager was dumfounded. "So, my rabbi reported to the Rebbe about me! I'll teach him a lesson!" he promised himself, as he left the Rebbe's room, abruptly, in an angry mood.

Losing no time, he set off to find the teacher. As soon as he saw him, he began abusing him in front of everyone.

"How dare you tell tales about me to your Rebbe!" he screamed. "After I treated you so well in my home! You're fired! I'll find another teacher in your place."

"What are you talking about?" asked the teacher, at a loss to understand why the villager was so angry and excited.

The villager then told him about the Rebbe's talk.

"You are mistaken. I haven't said anything about you to the Rebbe."

"So, I see that you are not only a tale-bearer but also a liar," cried the villager. "How else would the Rebbe know what I had done wrong?"

The teacher, seeing that he could not convince the villager otherwise, asked for another audience with the Rebbe and explained his dilemma.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman sent for the villager and told him that he had no reason to be angry at the teacher. "The teacher had not said anything about you to me," the Rebbe assured him.

"Then how is it that you know about those things that I had done?" asked the villager, unconvinced.

"I never said that you did those things," said the Rebbe. "I said it sometimes happens that a Jew does those things. How could I know that the 'cap' fit you?"

"So, nobody told you..." he began, his voice trailing off. Recovering, he said in an eager tone, "Please help me, Rebbe! I did, in fact, do all those things you mentioned. I have not been as good as I thought. What shall I do?"

The Rebbe spoke to him encouragingly, gave him some instructions, and assured him that G-d would readily accept his sincere repentance and He would bless him and his family with a truly good year.

With a much lighter heart the villager hurried off to tell the teacher that he was now convinced of his innocence, and that he would gladly welcome him back as a teacher for his children.

From then on, there was no more loyal follower of Rabbi Shneur Zalman than the hitherto ignorant, simple villager, who now revered the Rebbe with all his heart and soul, and tried his best to live up to his expectations.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#833), with permission.]

Biographic Note:
Rabbi Shnuer Zalman [18 Elul 1745-24 Tevet 1812], one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, is the founder of the Chabad-Chassidic movement. He is the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many other major works in both Jewish law and the mystical teachings.

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.

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