Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin was expected at the home of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. But the visit gave rise to a dispute between the Rebbe's wife and their daughter, Freyda. For several years now, 'Freidkeh' had taken charge of all the cooking in the house; now, in honor of the distinguished guest, the Rebbetzin wanted to retake the kitchen. The Rebbetzin cited seniority and mistress of the house rights. Her daughter argued that since she always does all the cooking, it is hardly fair that the task be taken from her just when an honored guest was due to arrive.

The case was referred for arbitration to Rabbi Shneur Zalman...

The case was referred for arbitration to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, who offered the following compromise: the Rebbetzin will prepare the food, but Freidkeh will add the salt. Since the food would be all but tasteless without her contribution, the privilege of feeding Rabbi Shlomo would be equally hers.

When the much-contested dish finally reached the table, Rabbi Shlomo Karliner found himself unable to continue past the first spoonful. The force of decades-long habit had caused the Rebbetzin to salt the food without even realizing it, and Freidkeh, of course, had not failed to perform her duty. The result was simply impossible to swallow.

But the sodium story of this hapless dish was far from over: a third dish of salt now joined its predecessors, this time cast by the hand of Rabbi Shnuer Zalman himself. Upon noticing the neglected plate in front of his guest, the Rebbe figured that perhaps the food was not sufficiently salted to Rabbi Shlomo's taste.

Finally, Rabbi Shneur Zalman asked the Karliner why he wasn't eating. Rabbi Shlomo replied that the food was too salty to eat. Surprised, Rabbi Shneur Zalman took another spoonful from his own plate and swallowed thoughtfully. "You know," he said, "you're right."

"From the time that I journeyed to Mezritch to my Rebbe," Rabbi Shneur Zalman explained, "I have not sensed the taste of food."

Connection to Weekly Torah Reading: all holy offerings are to be accompanied by salt.

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tillesfrom "Once Upon a Chassid" (Kehot) by Yanki Tauber.

Biographic notes:
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-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.

R. Shlomo of Karlin [1738 - 22 Tammuz 1792], was a student of the Maggid of Mezritch, as well as of Reb Aharon "the Great" of Karlin, whom he succeeded in 1772. Most of the Chassidic leaders of the next generation in the Lithuanian region were his disciples. He died a martyr, fatally stabbed by a Cossack while in the midst of the Amida prayer. His son, Rabbi Asher, was the first Rebbe of the Stolin dynasty.

Rebbetzin Freyda [1764 - 16 Sivan 1813], the daughter of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was an erudite and pious woman. As his first-born, and a special soul, she was especially dear to her father and he would frequently deliver Chasidic discourses just for her. One of her sons, Rabbi Aharon Zaslavski of Kremenchug, married Rebbetzin Chaya, the daughter of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

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