#136 (5760-36)


The Rebbe, R. Shlomo of Karlin, announced he was about to leave on a trip, and that anyone who needed anything of him was welcome to come along. 


A Chabad chassid who lived in Vitebsk remained childless for many years. Several times he had traveled to Liozhna to beseech his rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, to arouse Heaven's mercy with the Rebbe's prayers and blessings, but strangely, the Rebbe responded each time that it wasn't in his power to help him.

Once again he decided to seek the Rebbe's help. He enclosed with his written request to merit children a charitable contribution (called a pidyon nefesh--"soul redemption"). Again the Rebbe answered that it was not within his power to help him, but this time he offered a surprising recommendation: to go to Chassidic master Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, saying that "the Karliner" would be able to help him.

Now, it is well known how Lubavitcher chassidim feel about going to Rebbes other than their own. Nevertheless, his own Rebbe had suggested it, the need was great, and the years were slipping by, so off went the chassid to Karlin.

Arriving at Karlin, he consulted with some of the local chassidim. They recommended that the best time to gain access to the Rebbe was when he set out on one of his journeys. On the way, the Rebbe would regularly dispense advice and blessings to those that accompanied him. So the chassid stayed in Karlin several days, until finally the Karliner announced he was about to leave on a trip, and that anyone who needed anything of him was welcome to come along. The chassid climbed aboard the caravan of coaches and wagons, which soon after set off.

The Rebbe and his entourage passed through many towns and villages. The journey continued, but still the chassid had not received any encouragement to present himself to the tzadik, nor, for that matter, any clue as to the purpose of the journey. Finally, after they stopped at a certain village, the Karliner summoned the Chabad chassid and told him that if he would turn over to him a certain large sum of money, he would then merit to be blessed with offspring.

The chassid was by no means a wealthy man. Already the extended traveling had cut deep into his resources. What to do? Eventually he made up his mind that he just could not meet the Karliner's demand. He respectfully took leave of the Rebbe and departed for home, but in his heart he felt resentful: how could a tzadik request so much money for a blessing?

After he was home for a period of time, the chassid decided to go again to Liozhna to visit his own Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman. When his turn came for a private audience, the Rebbe asked him if he had gone to the Karliner Rebbe, and if so, what had the tzaddik advised him?

The chassid answered that indeed he had gone, and invested a lot of time and money in a long journey with him, but in the end the Karliner had requested a large sum of money which he wasn't able to provide, and what kind of business is this anyway to demand so much money for a blessing?

The Rebbe gazed at him and then remarked, "The reason you don't have children is because you once gravely insulted a Torah Sage."

"But I never insulted a Torah Sage in my life!" cried the chassid.

"Yes, you did," insisted the Rebbe, "the great scholar and righteous man, the Rav of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yisachar Ber, of blessed memory."

"But I never thought him to be anyone special," said the chassid.

" Is that so?," marveled the Rebbe. "You should know that Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet) was revealed to him everyday.

"It is written in the Jerusalem Talmud*," continued the Rebbe, "that part of the appeasement process is to pay a litra of gold. But as Rabbi Yisachar is not any more in this world, it was longer possible for you to apologize to him and make amends. There are certain latter rabbinical authorities, however, who have ruled that even posthumously, paying the litra of gold helps to ease the censure. The Karliner Rebbe took you around with him to all the places where those rabbinical authorities are buried in order to garner support for you. The large sum of money he requested from you was exactly equivalent to a liter if gold. Unfortunately, you passed up the opportunity.

"I, myself am not able to help you in this matter," explained the Rebbe, "because R. Yisaschar was my teacher, and a student cannot forego the honor of his teacher."

[Translated and freely adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles (and first published in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English) from Reshimat HaDevarim, Vol. III, page 89.]

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.

R. Shlomo of Karlin [1738-22 Tammuz 1792], was also a student of the Maggid, as well as of Reb Aharon the Great of Karlin, whom he succeeded in 1772. Most of the Chassidic leaders of the next generation in the Lithuanian region were his disciples. His son, Rabbi Asher, was the first Rebbe of Stolin.

* Bava Kama 8:6.

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