REBBE REPAYS A FAVOR
The Rebbe Reshab once made an
extended trip to Petersburg. Upon receiving his luggage from the freight
car, he realized one suitcase was missing. A number of his Chassidim,
headed by Reb Shmuel Michil, searched all over for it to no avail.
It had disappeared. The suitcase was full of books important to the
Rebbe, who was quite disturbed by the loss.
A few days later, a young man, Avraham Eliyahu Gurary,
son of Rabbi Shmuel Gurary, rabbi of the town of Horol, came to visit
the Rebbe. He was recently married and his bride's wealthy parents
had given him a dowry of ten thousand rubles. He went into business
with the money, only to lose nearly all of it. As you might imagine,
this downfall did not please his wife and in-laws, and his home life
suffered accordingly. He didn't know what to do.
When he heard the Rebbe Reshab was in Petersburg, he immediately
decided to ask his advice. Upon his arrival, the Rebbe asked him to
retrieve the suitcase, and gave him the luggage ticket. Avraham Eliyahu
took it and set out for the train station, unaware of all the searches
that had already been made for the missing valise.
It was unusually quiet when he got there. No trains were arriving
or leaving. The young man decided to get something to drink from the
cafeteria and sat down at a table. While taking a cigarette out of
his fancy cigarette case he noticed a man at another table, a non-Jew,
staring at him. The chassid promptly offered him a cigarette which
"What are you doing here when no trains are coming or going?"
the man asked him. "I came to get the suitcase of Rabbi Schneersohn,"
the Jew replied. "Amazing!" the other exclaimed. "I'm
the manager of the luggage depot here. Just give me your baggage claim
and I'll take care of it." Taking the ticket, he went to give
it to his workers. They went into the storeroom, but emerged empty-handed
a few minutes later saying there was no such suitcase there. The manager
raised his voice, "that's not acceptable, it must be there. Look
again, look well, and bring it to me fast!"
The workers ran back to the storeroom and searched thoroughly. After
moving every single piece of luggage out of the storeroom, they found
it hidden in a corner, blocked by a very large package. The chassid
thanked the manager and took the suitcase straight to the Rebbe who
was overjoyed. "Avraham Eliyahu - I'm in your debt," he
When Avraham Eliyahu subsequently gained a private audience, he told
the Rebbe all the details of his financial and personal woes. The
Rebbe asked him how much money he had left. Upon learning that only
a thousand rubles remained, the Rebbe said to him, "go to the
town of Kurtz, and may G-d Almighty cause you to prosper. And,"
added the Rebbe, "be sure to take along some provisions for the
Avraham Eliyahu returned home to tell his wife all the Rebbe had
said. He expressed his complete faith that surely now G-d would help
him. His wife, also joyful, prepared a variety of tasty baked goods
for his journey. Equipped with his tallit, tefillin
and package of food, he set out on his way.
It was a hot summer day when he arrived in Kurtz, so he decided to
go first for a swim in the Black Sea. While eating some of his wife's
baked goods after his swim, he noticed another man on the beach, a
Jew, staring at him and his food. The chassid promptly shared something
with him and the two men entered into friendly conversation. When
his new acquaintance asked him why he had come to Kurtz, Avraham Eliyahu
told him his whole story, how he had lost almost all his capital,
and how the Rebbe had blessed him and directed him to Kurtz with his
last thousand rubles. "Now that I'm here," he finished,
"I have no idea what I am supposed to do."
"Perhaps I can help you," the other man said. "Meet
me here tomorrow at this time.
Someone else will be with me and we will arrange something for your
benefit. And," he added smilingly, "don't you dare forget
to bring with you those delicious pastries."
The next day they met again, joined by a third man who offered to
sell Avraham Eliyahu a wagon load of cut cigarette papers for the
thousand rubles, to enable him to make a nice profit."
After the chassid paid him, his benefactor suggested he go to Kremenstok,
where there were a number of cigarette factories. When he got to Kremenstok,
he went to the factory of Tsvi Gur-Arye and offered him the wagon
load of cigarette papers. "How much do you want for them?"
asked the factory owner. "Ten thousand rubles," he answered,
determined to make back all his loss.
The factory owner smiled. "If I give you two thousand that should
be plenty, it's double what you paid." Avraham Eliyahu refused.
"Three thousand" the other said, and then upped it to four
thousand when the young chassid stood fast. More than that he wouldn't
offer, so Avraham Eliyahu left to look for other buyers. He spoke
to other tobacco merchants, one of whom offered him five thousand
Meanwhile the factory owner, Mr. Gur-Arye, travelled straight to
Kurtz, for the naive young chassid had not concealed anything from
him. "Why should I buy from him when I can also go to Kurtz and
get a wagonload for one thousand rubles, like he did?" the business
man said to himself.
After some investigation, he managed to locate the man who had sold
to the young chassid. "I'm sorry," the latter told him,
"we already have orders for all of our paper. I just took pity
on that nice young Jew and sold him one wagonload. Not only that,"
he continued, "there is no cigarette paper available anywhere
right now." When Tsvi Gur-Arye heard that, he immediately sent
a telegram to Avraham Eliyahu telling him not to sell his paper to
anyone else, that he would meet his price.
That is the story of how Avraham Eliyahu Gurary got all his money
back. Of course, seeing how it worked out so well, he decided to go
right back to the Rebbe and ask his advice what to do next. In high
spirits he travelled to the Rebbe and related to him the details of
how everything had worked out so well. "What does the Rebbe suggest
I do next?" he asked.
"Avraham Eliyahu!" stated the Rebbe Reshab. "I've
already paid my debt to you."
Source: Translated and retold by Yerachmiel Tilles (and first
published in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English) from Shmuot
v'Sipurim by Rafael Nachman Cohen.
Rabbi Sholom-Dovber Schneersohn [20 Cheshvan 5621 - 2 Nissan 5680
(Oct. 1860 - April 1920)], known as the Rebbe Reshab,
was the fifth Rebbe of the Lubavitcher dynasty. He is the author of
hundreds of major tracts in the exposition of Chassidic thought.