#327 (s5764-18/ 27 Tevet)

Investment Formula

"Let him go home if he wants to," said Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi


Investment Formula

Word of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad, and his teachings spread far and wide, and many people were attracted to the Chassidic way of life. One young man, who had recently married and was still supported by his in-laws, became exposed to Chassidut and desired to pursue this way of life. In fear of his family and friends, who were not at all inclined towards Chassidut, he disappeared from home one day and traveled to Liozna.

When his family discovered that he had joined the Chassidim, they literally rent their garments in mourning. His father-in-law, however, was more open-minded and practical. "What have we to gain by mourning? I will get to the core of the matter. If joining the Chassidim has caused him to stray from the path of Torah, then he must divorce his wife. If he has not, well then, let him come home."

Thus determined, the father-in-law set out for Liozna to find out about Chassidus and come to an agreement with his son-in-law. Upon arrival in the Chassidic center, he was very positively impressed by the Chassidim's devotion to Torah and mitzvos. He was soon convinced that his son-in-law, rather than abandon Torah life, had advanced in the service of G-d.

After coming to this conclusion, he approached his son-in-law and invited him to return home.

"I would do so gladly," said the young man. "However, I fear the intolerance of certain members of the family and friends."

The father-in-law then sought the Alter Rebbe's advice, requesting that he send his son-in-law home.

"I certainly will not stand in his way," said the Rebbe. "Let him go home if he wants to."

"But he is afraid that the people back home will harm him," protested the father-in-law.

"Well then, make every effort to protect him," the Rebbe replied.

The father-in-law was satisfied with the Rebbe's answer and, thanking him, told the Rebbe how impressed he was with the Chassidic way of life. "There is, however, one difficulty that I see," he related. "The Talmud teaches that one should devote a third of the day to study of Scripture, a third to the Mishnah, and a third to the Talmud.

"Now it seems that Chassidus would be included in the study of the Scripture and should, therefore, take up only a third of the study day. However, I have noticed my son-in-law devoting the majority of the day to learning Chassidus while he dedicates only a third to both Mishnah and Talmud."

The Alter Rebbe replied with a question: "How do you make your living?"

"I have a store."

"And how much have you invested in your business?"

"About two thousand rubles."

"How much of that investment is your own money?"

"Only five hundred; the rest is borrowed."

"Well then, how do you reconcile your behavior with the Talmud's guideline for securing one's funds? It says specifically: "One should divide his funds into three parts: investing a third in business, a third in real estate, and a third should be readily available cash.' Not only have you not divided your money according to the Talmud's injunctions, you have also gone into considerable debt."

"With all due respect, Rebbe, that program of investment may have been appropriate for Talmudic times, but it appears totally impractical at present. Unfortunately, the high cost of living and our difficult circumstances compel one to borrow heavily and even then, one's livelihood is far from assured."

"So it is, regarding Torah study and self-development," replied the Rebbe. "In Talmudic times, one could follow the guidelines you mentioned and maintain a satisfactory level of fear of G-d. However, in our generation, even with intensified study of Chassidus, true fear of G-d is difficult to achieve."

[Adapted by Trachmiel Tilles from "From My Father's Shabbos Table" (pp. 67-68), Eliyahu Touger's excellent selection and translation from Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik's 4-volume series, Reshimat Devorim.]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shneur 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.

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