Wednesday, September 14, 2005


By the grace of G-d

“My master and teacher,” he said in trembling voice, “it’s a great danger to enter this street. Jews are forbidden to enter here; they’ll stone us!”
Once again a faint smile rose to the Baal Shem Tov’s holy lips. “Oy, Shloimke, do you think the horses knew where to go on this long trip only to err now? They know exactly where to go and there’s no need to show them the way.” By Shneur Zalman Levin


Shloimke was about 23 with a short black beard framing his face and large, curious eyes. He was supported by his wealthy father-in-law in Brod. He had been promised ten years at his father-in-law’s table, and he was making good use of this time delving into Torah studies. His father-in-law had much nachas from his young son-in-law, who had won everybody’s hearts.

This is why he was thrilled when one day a special emissary from the Baal Shem Tov came, and suggested (in the Baal Shem Tov’s name) that the young man accompany him on his trip to Posen. This offer was considered a great honor, and the wealthy man saw this as the tzaddik’s recognition of his son-in-law’s fine qualities.

Shloimke agreed to go on this trip, not only because of the privilege of being in the presence of the Baal Shem Tov for a number of days, but also because he hoped to visit his beloved parents, who lived in Posen, after not having seen them for three years in a row.

Thursday morning, the tzaddik’s coach left Brod on its way to Posen. It’s a long trip to Posen, and Shlomo packed enough for a week’s time. He didn’t begin to imagine what he’d experience on this trip. Alexi the wagon driver whistled and the horses took off.


The horses picked up the pace and the road flew by. Shlomo looked out the window of the coach and was amazed by the speed. He then glanced over at Alexi and was astonished to see him napping. Sensing Shloimke’s bewilderment, the Baal Shem Tov reassured him. “No Shloimke,” he said, “there is no need to guide the horses; they’ll get there just fine on their own.”

Shloimke’s wonder grew, but he didn’t dare question the Rebbe. He sat in a corner of the coach and waited to see what would happen.

Hours passed. It was only as the sun set that the horses began slowing down their gait and then came to a halt. Alexi woke up and stood up. The Baal Shem Tov roused himself from his thoughts and told Alexi to bring a cup of water.

Crimson and purple streaks colored the sky. Only moments remained for Mincha. Alexi disappeared among the shrubbery which swarmed with birds. The sound of running water could be heard from somewhere. A few minutes later Alexi returned with a cup of water and gave it to his master. The Baal Shem Tov used some of the water to wash his hands, then he said the Sh’hakol bracha with great concentration, drank some water, and proceeded to daven Mincha.

Shloimke noticed that the tzaddik’s t’filla was with great fervor and awesome d’veikus. After a long while, when he finally finished davening, the tzaddik gave the order for the journey to continue. Shloimke was perplexed by the tzaddik’s unusual ways.

The coach wandered on through the night, passing forests, crossing valleys, and climbing steep mountains. Not a house nor living creature did they see. Shloimke huddled in his corner and nodded off every so often in weariness, but the rigors of the road kept waking him. Each time this happened he glanced over at the tzaddik and was always amazed to see him sitting in the very same position: back erect, hands folded, and eyes open, staring off into the distance.

Even when a new day dawned, Erev Shabbos, nothing changed. The horses galloped, Alexi sat on his perch asleep, and out the window could be seen mountains and uncultivated fields. They continued traveling except for a break for Shacharis. When Shloimke saw this he began wondering where they’d spend Shabbos. He didn’t dare ask the Baal Shem Tov. He pushed aside the question for midday, hoping that perhaps by that time they’d reach civilization.

Just a few hours before Shabbos, he fearfully turned to the Baal Shem Tov and asked, “Holy master, where will we spend Shabbos? Where will we daven and eat the Shabbos meals?”

The tzaddik heard the question and after a long pause he turned to the young man and said, “Don’t you know, Shloimke, that we’re spending Shabbos in Posen? That’s why I took you with me!”

Shlomo nodded his head in disbelief and confusion. He was quite familiar with Posen and its environs. He had spent his childhood and youth in the city, yet he had not seen one familiar landmark to indicate that they were anywhere near Posen. Furthermore, a trip like that took a week, not a day and a half!

A deep despair began to bore into his heart. He figured that the tzaddik was trying to calm him down so that he shouldn’t be frightened. He tried to imagine how they would eat the festive Shabbos meals on a hill in the dark and then sleep on the hard ground. He, a vaunted young scholar, the son-in-law of the richest man in town who lacked nothing at his enormous Shabbos table, would celebrate Shabbos in this lowly way...

He was elated when the horses suddenly stopped galloping and began trotting up the road of a little village which seemed to appear out of nowhere. Shloimke looked curiously at the unfamiliar village. On the pathways between the old wooden houses, people could be seen hurrying on their way. He didn’t care that they would be making Shabbos in this little village; the main thing was to make Shabbos among people. Traveling the lonely roads was foreign to him.

The coach stopped and the Baal Shem Tov quickly alighted and went over to a nearby hovel. Shlomo also jumped out and joined the Baal Shem Tov in order to celebrate Shabbos with him.

A poor and frail man opened the door, his creased eyes lighting up with joy upon seeing the figure of the tzaddik. A pleased laugh burst forth from his lips and he hurried to shake the tzaddik’s hand, saying, “Shalom aleichem, my master and teacher.”

The two men sat down and spoke to each other for half an hour. The joy of their meeting was apparent on their faces. One could see that they were happy to speak with one another. Shloimke tried to eavesdrop but despite his knowledge he couldn’t manage to understand what the two were talking about.

Shloimke looked about him and saw the tremendous poverty that prevailed in the home. Nevertheless, it was better to make Shabbos here than out in the dark field or in a forest full of wild beasts. You can imagine his surprise, though, when he saw the two men get up, embrace, and bid their farewells. Then the Baal Shem Tov gave the order to continue on their way.

Shloimke looked up at the sky and saw that the sun would be setting shortly. The Shabbos Queen would soon arrive! He began to grow impatient.

The horses galloped for another half an hour and Shloimke suddenly noticed familiar towers on the horizon. It was Posen! Now he was utterly confounded. He looked about him again and again, to check and see whether he wasn’t mistaken and was seeing mirages, but the reality was too stark to be imagined. The coach entered Posen, his hometown. Tears ran down his face, for he could not believe he had arrived. In another few moments he would see his beloved parents, he would eat his mother’s familiar cooking, and he would be enveloped within the walls of the house he had grown up in.


Shuler Gass (lit., School Street) was a name that cast dread upon all the Jews of Posen. When a child wanted to frighten his playmate he would threaten to send him to Shuler Gass. When someone was angry he would furiously shout, “They ought to send you to the Shuler Gass!”

Shuler Gass was the street of the Posen students, at the end of which stood the university. There classes were held, given by distinguished lecturers, public figures, and learned Christians.

If a Jew entered this street it entailed danger to his very life. The Christian students forbade the Jews from passing through. The town elders related the tale of a Jew who entered the street in error and was stoned to death by the students.

Only one Jew had permission to live on this street. This was Feivel the tailor, a master of his craft. Because of his great talent, he received the right to sew clothing for students of the Christian seminary, and he even set up his tailor shop on this street. Additionally, he had even received permission to hire seven Jewish workers. These were the only Jews allowed on the street.

So it was no surprise, when the horses of the Baal Shem Tov’s coach pulled up at the Shuler Gass that Shloimke was besides himself. “My master and teacher,” he said in trembling voice, “it’s a great danger to enter this street. Jews are forbidden to enter here; they’ll stone us!”

Once again a faint smile rose to the Baal Shem Tov’s holy lips. “Oy, Shloimke, do you think the horses knew where to go on this long trip only to err now? They know exactly where to go and there’s no need to show them the way.”

As though the horses heard the tzaddik’s words, at that moment they halted at the threshold of the tailor’s shop. The Baal Shem Tov quickly alighted from the coach and knocked on the solid oak door. The door opened and the tailor stood there. When he saw the exalted figure of the Baal Shem Tov, he recoiled in fright. He hadn’t even opened his mouth when the Baal Shem Tov said, “Perhaps we can stay with you for Shabbos.” The Baal Shem Tov’s voice was soft and beseeching.

“Shabbos will be here in another few minutes, and we just arrived from a long trip.”

Beads of sweat formed on the tailor’s forehead. His eyes darted back and forth in fear and nervousness. “I would be glad to host you, but you certainly know that it’s extremely dangerous for Jews to stay here, even briefly, all the more so for an entire Shabbos. No, I cannot allow you to enter. I, as well as you, am commanded to protect our lives.”

The Baal Shem Tov looked at the tailor warmly and said, “You needn’t be afraid because of us. I am sure that with Hashem’s kindness, no evil will befall us. We’d be happy to stay with you for Shabbos.”

Before the Baal Shem Tov could finish what he was saying, Alexi the gentile had placed their bundles on the doorstep. Without uttering a word, the tailor turned around and opened the door wide.

Two minutes later, Shabbos spread its wings over the streets of Posen, and over the Shuler Gass.


A small minyan gathered in the tailor’s house. The minyan was comprised of the tzaddik, Shloimke, the tailor, and his seven employees. Shloimke quickly realized that he would be unable to visit his parents, first of all because of his fear in leaving the house to the domain of the bloodthirsty Anti-Semites, in addition to which he was the tenth man of the minyan.

Word of the Jewish guests’ arrival to Shuler Gass got out and hordes of young Christian hotheads gathered around the house, clutching sticks and large stones in their hands. Murder and fury burned in their eyes. Their shouting penetrated the sealed windows, “Bring out the Jewish guests!” and they banged furiously on the door.

The tailor and his family were petrified. Just what they had feared had come to pass. In a corner of the room, Shloimke stood, pale, knowing that his young life could end in a few short moments, as the door would break with a crash. Sounds of the mob grew louder and the blows grew stronger.

Just then the Baal Shem Tov turned his head, for he had just heard the sound of the clock. His face aflame, his eyes aglow, and his appearance like an angel of G-d, he approached the door and calmly opened it wide, his holy face becoming visible to the crowd.

Their surprise was enormous. They didn’t expect the door to open so readily. For a some time they stood there as though paralyzed, as though they had seen an angel of G-d. They put down their sticks and stones and ran away screaming, as if their very lives were at stake...

* * *

Professor Brahnd sat at the university over his books. He was preparing his lecture for the next day when the sound of a mob could be heard. The creases in his high forehead disappeared as he glanced out the window and saw masses of young people running for their lives. The street was too narrow to contain them all, and they trampled one another as they ran.

He quickly learned the reason for the sudden flight. One of the students told him the story of what had happened at the tailor’s house. Brahnd realized that something out of the ordinary had taken place here. “It’s either a great magician or a G-dly man,” he thought.

Brahnd was very familiar with the ways and language of the Jewish people. For many years he had delved into their books and their history. He understood their actions and way of life. Brahnd was an outstandingly learned man, well-versed and sharp. He could not contain his curiosity, so he decided to see for himself the man who dared to put his life into his hands and come to the students’ street.

At that time the Baal Shem Tov stood in ecstasy as he recited Kabbalas Shabbos. “Behold Your enemies will be destroyed, all evil-doers will be scattered...” The Baal Shem Tov’s voice burned with heavenly passion, and his face was like a flame.

Brahnd entered quietly and stood in a corner of the room. The appearance of the tzaddik entranced him, and captivated him from the very start. Shloimke gave him a look and even the tailor glanced at him apprehensively, knowing him well, and familiar with his ways, but Brahnd paid no attention to any of them. His gaze focused on the figure of the tzaddik.

Even when the tzaddik made Kiddush and sat down to eat the Shabbos meal, he did not avert his gaze from the face of the tzaddik. He sat at the edge of the table, not budging.

The Baal Shem Tov seemed not to notice him. He sang the Shabbos z’miros, ate the Shabbos delicacies, and spoke with the tailor’s workers about simple Torah thoughts, and told them about Hashem’s love for every Jew.

At the meal’s end, Brahnd seemed to awake from a dream. Without saying anything, he left the house. The Baal Shem Tov paid him no attention the entire time. It was a bizarre scene.

The scene repeated itself the next day. During Shacharis, the door opened silently and Brahnd stood in the same place as he had the night before, standing there from the beginning of the t’filla until after the Shabbos meal, not removing his eyes from the tzaddik, his gaze deep and penetrating.

This scene repeated itself at Mincha too, and at the third Shabbos meal which followed it. As opposed to the earlier meals in which the tzaddik said simple things which even the tailor and his men could understand, at the third meal he said a profound discourse explaining the exaltedness of the pure Jewish soul and its descent through the spiritual realms down to this lowly world. The face of the Baal Shem Tov was a portrait of Divine ecstasy and inspiration.

Shloimke listened closely and tried to follow what was being said. The tailor and his men stood and stared in awe. Brahnd stood in his place and for the first time one could see a slight movement of his head, as though he were nodding and approving of what was being said. The Baal Shem Tov spoke for a long time and when he finished, he said they should bentch, daven Maariv, and then he told Alexi to harness the horses for the return trip to Brod.

This was beyond Shloimke. The sudden trip, the hurried meeting, the experiences along the way, and especially the shocking visit to Shuler Gass. On top of his amazement was his bitterness upon realizing that he would not be meeting his parents this time.

Shloimke couldn’t hold out, and on the way home he questioned the Baal Shem Tov: “I know that our master knows what he’s doing, and his ways are beyond my puny understanding. Nevertheless, I hoped to visit my parents and to make them happy, and for this reason, I was deeply disappointed to see my parents’ home only from a distance, being unable to go there and see them. It’s like a thirsty man taking a cup of water to drink and at the last minute someone taking the cup away from him. Oy, how painful is the suffering of a thirsty man.

“For this reason I request of our master that even if I didn’t merit a visit to my parents, at least explain to me the meaning of your actions since we left our house on Thursday morning. The master’s answers will serve, at least, as compensation for my great disappointment.”

The Baal Shem Tov listened to Shloimke and nodded his agreement, so Shloimke asked all his questions:

“First of all, why on our way to Posen did the horses stop among the trees and our master tarried over Mincha there and then said Sh’hakol with such d’veikus. I assume it wasn’t for naught, and that in that spot there is something hidden, something I don’t understand.

“My second question is: who was the poor man who hosted us briefly in his home? Why did we continue traveling rather than stay with him for Shabbos, when it was so close to Shabbos?

“I will dare to ask yet another question. Why did we travel so far in order to spend Shabbos in Posen?”

The Baal Shem Tov listened patiently to his questions and smiled a fatherly smile.

“Shloimke, you can’t know everything. I will answer two of your questions, and the answer to the third question will have to wait.”

The Baal Shem Tov began telling about two Jews who went on the road, belts tied about their waists and with bundles of money. Suddenly they were accosted by two robbers who robbed them of all their money and then for no reason, in spite of their pleads to spare their lives. The robbers hid the bodies of the two Jews in the spot where they had davened Mincha.

For many years the souls of these two men did not find rest, and this is because the place they were buried in is far off the beaten path and no Jew had ever come to purify the air of that place to restore peace to those two souls. Therefore, said the Baal Shem Tov, I stopped there and said a blessing and davened Mincha, and after doing that, the two souls found their eternal rest.

As far as your second question about the poor old man, as you know, in every generation there is one soul, the soul of Moshiach who is invested in the body of some Jew, and that is the man who is worthy of being Moshiach. When the time comes he will be revealed in all his glory as Moshiach ben Dovid. He strongly desired that I stay with him for Shabbos so we could talk in learning. However I saw that it was decreed that he die that Shabbos, and I knew I could not stay with him and witness the loss of our king, Moshiach.

The Baal Shem Tov concluded, “And as I told you, you’ll learn the answer to your third question when the time comes.”

On Monday the coach made its way into the city of Brod, and when word got out that they had spent Shabbos in Posen, the city was in turmoil.


Years passed and Shloimke had come of age. However, he did not abandon his Torah though he devoted most of his time to his business. Occasionally he left home and went to distant cities and towns to buy and sell and wheel and deal.

One day he arrived in a small city, far from the beaten path, and nearly unknown to Jewish communities. Shabbos was approaching and Shloimke arranged to spend Shabbos in the city. As was his way, he inquired as to the rav of the city, and when they met, he asked whether he could stay with him for Shabbos, in exchange for which he would pay him handsomely. The rav was pleased to host him, though he refused payment.

Shloimke had a most enjoyable Shabbos. During the meals he discussed Torah with the rav, halacha and pilpulei Gemara and mefarshim, and he discovered him to be very knowledgeable. The Shabbos meals were lengthy as host and guest thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

At the third meal, the rav began saying divrei Torah. His main point was about the secret of the Jewish soul which descends through the spiritual realms and invests itself in the body of a Jew in order to raise it up to holiness. The rav went on at length, and the Torah was deep and wondrous. Shloimke did not hide his amazement.

“Where did the rav come by such wondrous Torah? I heard this once before. I remember that it was many years ago when I traveled with my teacher and master the Baal Shem Tov, and we spent Shabbos in the home of a tailor on the Shuler Gass in Posen. That’s when our master said exactly the same thing, almost word for word!”

At once, the face of the rav blanched and his hands began to tremble. Shlomo didn’t understand what had caused this to happen and he hastily rose in order to aid the rav.

The rav cried out, “Are you the young man who accompanied our master that Shabbos?”

Shlomo remained standing in his place in utter shock. He hadn’t managed to reply when the rav continued, “Of course you don’t recognize me! I am Brahnd, the professor who was with you throughout the t’fillos and Shabbos meals.”

After the two of them had recovered somewhat, the rav related what he had experienced on that amazing Shabbos.

“Today I know that the reason the Baal Shem Tov traveled to Posen was solely because of me, in order to raise my soul from the depths of klipa and to revive it with the light of life of p’nimius ha’Torah. As he davened, I felt that each word that came out of his holy mouth was like a flame that entered my heart and consumed one of the forces of impurity within me. The Baal Shem Tov continued until he had destroyed all the powers of impurity within me.

“During the Shabbos meals, as he said divrei Torah, he aroused in my heart a fire of holiness, especially during the wondrous discourse at the third meal about the secret of the essence of the Jewish soul. The words cleaved my heart and enflamed me from within. I felt that I could no longer continue my way of life and I fled the city to another country where I converted and joined the Jewish people.

“For that reason the particular discourse he said then is beloved to me, for because of it, I entered under the wings of the Sh’china. Whenever a guest comes my way who is a talmid chacham, I repeat that wondrous Torah that restores the soul. Fortunate are we that we merit this.”

(Sippurim Noraim, Otzar Sippurei Chabad)

New Section on

חדשות חב"ד

New Section on is pleased to announce the launching of a new section to the site:  Tishrei in Lubavitch.  In this section, you will find updates about traveling to the Rebbe as well as information about your stay in Crown Heights for Tishrei. 

"the Kindness of our Forefathers"

חדשות חב"ד

"the Kindness of our Forefathers"

R. Victor Attiya, director of Beis Chabad of Kiryat Arba-Chevron, blowing shofar for soldiers at the foot of Mearas Hamachpela.

NJ Shliach Joins 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

חדשות חב"ד

NJ Shliach Joins 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

On Sunday September 11, 2005, South Brunswick Township dedicated a Remembrance Fountain in front of the Municipal Building to the memory of the three South Brunswick residents who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  The event was attended by honored dignitaries, including: Mayor Frank Gambatese, the Township’s council, Congressman Rush Holt, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Bill Baroni, Freeholder Director David Crabiel, and Freeholder Camille Fernicola. 
The Middlesex County Pipe and Drum and South Brunswick High School’s band played the National anthem. Commencing the ceremony, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of Chabad House of South Brunswick, gave the invocation. The day continued with Community Unity Day at Woodlot Park at which Rabbi Carlebach gave another invocation to start the day’s festivities. In his invocation, Rabbi Carlebach used Biblical and Talmudic sources to explain how mankind must reflect in the poignancy of the moment and resolve to not only rebuild but to remain loyal to the spirit of all the 9/11 heroes. Mayor Frank Gambatese spoke of how a moment of tragedy must bring unity to the entire community.

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