Weekly Chasidic Story #811 (s5773-40 / 2 Tammuz 5773)
A Lucky Partnership
The Lubavitcher Rebbe advised him to make a large purchase of a certain material that the fabrics dealer had never purchased before.
Connection: Seasonal - the 19th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
A Lucky Partnership
Menachem Mendel HaLevi ("Max") Katsch, an international dealer in furs who resided in London, often visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Although a relatively new member of the Chabad community in England, he was quite familiar with how the Rebbe's advice and blessings had impacted many people's lives in virtually every area of human experience.
Once, during a private audience, he put forth a tongue-in-cheek proposal for the Rebbe to partner with him in a business venture! The Rebbe's expression became serious and said, "Fair enough. But remember that in a partnership, neither partner gets to make a move without the consent of the other. Do we have a deal?"
Mr. Katsch was of course excited about this lucky opportunity to "partner" with the tzadik. So even though at the same time he was somewhat skeptical about the Rebbe's knowledge of the fur trade, he readily accepted the deal. The Rebbe gave him a token amount of dollars to "seal" the arrangement.
The Rebbe then advised him to make a large purchase of a rare fur that had never even been on the man's radar screen: muskrat fur! The dealer went home and placed a large order for this unusual fabric.
When he reported back to New York, the Rebbe responded that the buy was far too conservative. A much larger quantity should have been purchased. On the Rebbe's say-so, Katsch went out and bought astronomical quantities of the stuff -- to the point of investing his entire personal fortune to pay for the shipments, and also borrowing large sums to purchase even more.
To the man's chagrin, shortly after the acquisitions the value of this unusual fur began to plummet. Perhaps, he thought, he should hedge his investment and sell off a significant percentage of what he had purchased.
As promised, he contacted the Rebbe for his consent. To his surprise, the Rebbe did not grant consent and reminded him of their agreement with regard to unilateral moves.
The price of the fur continued to sink. And with it sank Mr. Katsch's spirits; it seemed to him that he would certainly be ruined. Every day, he watched his fortune slipping further and further away. All pleas to the Rebbe were met with the same answer: "Don't sell."
Facing financial ruin, he finally began to question his entire relationship with the Rebbe and Chabad-Lubavitch. Perhaps it was all a mistake. With each day's devaluation of his inventory, his distance from the Chabad community widened.
The bleeding continued for nearly half a year altogether. One day, the price took a slight tick back up. He again consulted the Rebbe. But the Rebbe still withheld consent. When the price rose to where he could break even, the Rebbe still would not green-light the sell-off.
The price of the fur continued to rise incrementally. At each juncture, Mr.
Katsch desired to sell, and always the Rebbe advised him to wait.
Shortly thereafter, a famous fashion designer put out a line that called for extensive use of a rare material: muskrat fur! The industry was soon astonished to discover that a man in England had the market cornered. When Katsch reported this to the Rebbe, he was told that the time had come to sell.
The inventory went fast. Even after repaying the loans and subtracting his costs, he made many millions in profit. He excitedly boarded a plane to hand the Rebbe a check for his "share." The Rebbe declined, requesting that the man give the money to charity instead.
Katsch then asked the Rebbe if they could perhaps pursue another venture together. The Rebbe smiled as he demurred: "I'm sorry... You're a shvacher shutaf, 'a weak partner'-'too weak-hearted'."
Photo credit: the Chassidic Art Institute, Brooklyn NY
Connection: The 3rd day of the Jewish month of Tammuz (2013: Tues., June 11) is the yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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