#122 (s5760-22/ 3 Adar I 5760)


Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi leaned his head on his hands, as he often did when entering a state of divine union.



Soon after Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi became Rebbe, there lived in Vitebsk a chassid by the name of Gavriel, who was persecuted by his father and brothers and other relatives for having joined "the Sect". He even ignored their concerted efforts to ruin his sources of income, and continued periodically to visit Liozna, where the Rebbe lived at that time.

Not once did he complain to the Rebbe about the deteriorating financial situation of his shop; on the contrary, he always contributed generously to all the causes for which the Rebbe turned to his chassidim, such as support of the needy scholars in Eretz Yisrael, and the ransom of captives. Nor did he ever complain to the Rebbe about another cause for heartache: twenty-five years after his marriage he and his wife had not yet been blessed with a child. But He Who engineers all circumstances brought about a circumstance through which Reb Gavriel was granted a triple blessing - children, long life, and livelihood. And this is how it happened.

A large sum was once needed for the ransom of captives, and Rabbi Shneur Zalman - as was his custom - named the amount that Gavriel was expected to contribute. When he told his wife of this she observed that he was not happy, which he always was in such circumstances. In answer to her query, he let her into the secret that as a result of his family's activities they had been reduced to poverty, and he simply did not possess the amount that the Rebbe had named.

"Haven't you told me many times," said his wife, "that our Rebbe says that one should always trust in G-d and be constantly joyful? So why be unhappy? The Almighty will surely help, and enable us to contribute the amount the Rebbe expects of us!"

She then went ahead and quietly sold whatever jewelry and gems she had, and brought the money they had fetched to her husband, saying: "Look, here we already have the whole amount."

And she suggested that he set out at once, and take her little bundle directly to the Rebbe. Reb Gavriel reminded her that the Rebbe usually sent out an emissary to collect such moneys, and it would be preferable to wait this time too. But since within a short time his brothers caused him another serious loss, he was afraid that if the money would be needed he might be tempted to use it for some other purpose, and decided after all to set out with the bundle to Liozna.

Arriving there, he placed the bundle on the Rebbe's table, and explained that since his financial situation was not as comfortable as it had once been, he preferred not to wait until some emergency made him divert this money to another end, in which case he might not have it ready for the emissary; he had therefore come now. The Rebbe thereupon told him to open the bundle and to count the money. He did so, and was surprised to see that the coins shone as if the had directly come from the mint.

The Rebbe leaned his head on his hands, as he often did when entering a state of dveikut [union with G-d], then raised his head and said: "The contribution to the Sanctuary in the wilderness included gold, silver and copper, but the only metals to shine were the mirrors of the women, from the copper of which the laver and its pedestal were made. The laver and its pedestal, by the way, were the last items to be made, but the first to be used, in the service of the Sanctuary. Tell me, where did this money come from?"

Gavriel told the Rebbe that he had suffered persecution by his family for ten years, and went on to tell how his wife had secured the money.

Once again, in a state of dveikut, the Rebbe leaned his head on his hands for some time, and then said: "Bat dina battel dina" ["daughter of law nullified law"] -- "Your harsh trials are over. May G-d grant you and your wife sons and daughters, and long life to see the offspring of your offspring; may G-d grant you over and again prosperity wherever you turn, and favor in the eyes of all those who see you. You are advised to lose your shop and start dealing gems."

With a happy heart Gavriel hastened home to bring his wife the good news - and asked her why the coins shone.

"I rubbed them for a long time with sand," she said, "until they glistened and sparkled like the stars!"

Gavriel closed his shop and began dealing in gems. G-d made his way prosper, so that he found favor in the eyes of his local nobles and squires who soon became his regular customers. His clientele widened from day to day. Moreover, within a year his wife gave birth to a son.

Within three years he had become wealthy, prospering in whatever he applied himself to, and finding favor in the eyes of whoever saw him, until he was nicknamed "Gavriel the Likable". After forty years he handed over his business to his sons, and spent his retirement in the study of Torah, in prayer, and in acts of charity. Indeed, in his philanthropy the growing community of chassidim in Vitebsk found a source of constant blessing.

[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by the incomparable Uri Kaploun.]

Biographical 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.

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