Weekly Chasidic Story ##857 (s5774-34 / 22 Nisan 5774)

A Rebbe’s Sweat

“I am dismissing you as of today,” said Rabbi shmuel schneersohn of Lubavitch. “Please go home, and I will send you your wages there every week.”

Connections: Seasonal-132nd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Maharash



It once happened that R. David-Zvi Chain, the chief rabbi of Chernigov, arrived late for his yechidus [private audience] with his rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch. He decided to forego the special merit of a private audience, and just wait in the room adjoining the rebbe’s study to ask a certain question of the rebbe as he passed, for he had to return home within a short time.


After a while, he was joined there by the rebbe’s attendant, who had brought the change of clothing which the rebbe would soon need, for whenever he received a long series of Chassidim for private interviews, he always perspired heavily.


“Would you happen to know,” the attendant asked Rabbi David-Zvi, “why he perspires so much when he grantsyechidus in there? The whole thing lasts only an hour, but does he perspire!”


The chassid remained silent, so the attendant asked again: “Why, in heaven’s name, does he perspire so much?”


The door to the study opened at once, and the rebbe addressed the questioner: “I am dismissing you as of today. Please go home, and I will send you your wages there every week. And by the way, why is it so hard to understand why I perspire?


“In the course of this past hour I received twenty-five people for yechidus. If I am to counsel each man well, then I must experience his distress exactly as he himself experiences it: I must divest myself of my own garments and clothe myself in his. When the time comes for me to offer him advice, I cannot do this while I am still dressed in his spiritual garments – just as he was unable to advise himself while in that condition. I therefore have to get out of his clothes and dress myself again in my own. In brief, for every person who comes in with a question, I have to undress and dress twice. Now work it out for yourself: if in the course of one hour a man has to undress and dress fifty times over, how can he not perspire?”
Source: Supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by the esteemed Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.


Connection: Seasonal-132nd anniversary of birthday of the Rebbe Maharash.


Biographical note:
Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 2 Iyar 5594 – 13 Tishrei 5643 (1834-Sept. 1882 C.E.)], the fourth Lubavitch Rebbe, known as “the Rebbe Maharash,” was the seventh and youngest son of his predecessor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, “the Tsemach Tsedek”. 



Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.


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