Weekly Chasidic Story 692 (s5771-26 / 24 Adar A 5771)
The Silver Cane
The chasid of the Baal HaTanya forgot to leave his cane outside before entering the Rebbe’s room.
Connection: Weekly Reading – lots of silver
A middle-aged chasid of the Alter Rebbe used to go about with a wooden cane. However, whenever he had a private audience with the Rebbe he made sure to leave the cane outside of the room before entering, as he deemed it disrespectful to enter the Rebbe’s room with a cane.
One time though, he forgot. The Rebbe eyed the cane for a few long moments, and then said to the discomfited chasid, “You know, a cane like that deserves a silver handle.”
As soon as the chasid left the Rebbe’s study, excited by the Rebbe’s personal recommendation, he rushed over to the silversmith and requested a silver overlay for the head of his cane. The next day, when he returned to the shop and saw the result, he was not satisfied. “No,” he said to the astonished craftsman; “this won’t do. You made it like a normal silver handle. But this has to be special. The Rebbe himself told me to put it on.”
The silversmith added another coat or three, but when his customer returned he still was not satisfied. “Not enough,” he insisted. “Not enough. Not when it is the Rebbe himself who said to make it silver.”
This time the silversmith added really a lot of silver. He actually worried that he had made it so thick and so heavy that it would no longer be practical for use.
The chasid, however, was ecstatic. “I have fulfilled the Rebbe’s directive to the maximum, and beyond!” he thought to himself.
He set off for home. But he did not progress far along the road before he was set upon by three highwaymen, marauding murderers who were intent on taking all his valuables, including of course the cane with its massive amount of glittering silver, and then disposing of all the evidence, including the victim.
“You want my cane?” he screamed. “I’ll give it to you!” with the sudden realization that the handsome silver top was also a powerful weapon. He quickly reversed it, grasped it with both hands at the bottom, and swung it mightily at the head of the nearest robber. The top of the cane connected solidly with the back of his head, and down he slid to the ground, unconscious.
The chasid quickly dispatched the second attacker as well. He then wheeled towards the last man, but he was already speeding down the road, looking back a few times in shocked fright.
The next time the chasid arrived in Liozna he was soon admitted to private audience. But before he could tell the story of what had happened, the Rebbe spoke first:
“Now your cane no longer needs a silver head.”
Source: Heard at a farbrengen from Rabbi Eli Friedman, who also helped with this English text version.
Connection: Weekly reading – lots of silver.
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-Chasidic 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.
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.