About two hundred years ago lived a rich Jew who made his fortune by building ships for the Russian Navy.

They despised their Jewish boss...

The Russians have no love for the Jews, most of them then were outright anti-Semites, and it so happened that a large group of this Jew’s workers were 'blessed' with an unusual measure of this hatred. They despised their Jewish boss, were jealous of his success and would have killed him outright were it not punishable in court.

So they came up with a plan. They purposely put flaws in their work and then went to the police presenting a neatly fabricated story, supported by the defects in the ship they were building, that it was all the doing of their boss.

In no time the whole thing became a public scandal: A Jew took money from the government, sabotaged the Czar's navy and tried to undermine the entire kingdom!

Our hero was taken by complete surprise. Before he knew it he was being led to jail!

He had no choice but to put up a high bail and make tracks to the best lawyers possible. But none of them wanted to touch his case. There were too many witnesses and too much evidence against him. He tried to offer them more money but it didn't help; all the money in the world couldn't convince them to defend a traitor!

With no recourse he ran to the city of Liozna where Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Rebbe of Chabad, lived. He heard that this Rabbi did miracles to help people and he desperately needed one!

He made it to the Rebbe, asked for an audience and, after a few hours wait found himself pouring out his heart to this holy man.

The Rebbe heard his problem, thought for a few seconds, smiled and said. "You have to go to the local horse market and buy four of the best and most expensive horses there, spare no money. Just make sure they are the strongest and most impressive horses there. "

"Horses?" he blurted out in surprise.

"Horses?" he blurted out in surprise.

"Yes", answered the Rebbe "Then ask where you can buy a carriage and buy the most ornamented and costly one available. Have the horses hitched to the carriage and drive to the city of Petersburg where the Czar's palace is and drive back and forth in front of the royal palace. Do you understand?

The poor fellow nodded his head yes, even though he was completely bewildered. He didn't believe that this was happening to him! First being accused of capital crimes he never committed and now horses! But he knew he had no choice.

The Rebbe continued. "Eventually one of the Czar's men will stop you and ask you if the horses are for sale but you must answer 'no, not for all the money in the world!' Do you understand?

'I give them to our glorious Czar as a gift!'

He meekly nodded his head again and the Rebbe continued, "He will offer you more and more money but refuse until he will say that the Czar saw them from his window and wants them. When he says this, you get out of the wagon, stand at attention and say, 'For the Czar?! I give them to our glorious Czar as a gift!' — and hope for a miracle!"

The poor fellow backed out of the Rebbe's room as though in a bad dream but with no other option, he did as he was told. He went to the horse market, bought the best ones there, and had them harnessed to the finest carriage.

He had to drive for many hours till he reached Petersburg. Then he began driving around and around before the Czar's palace thinking to himself, "I hope they don't think I'm insane and put me in a hospital! And even if the Czar does notice me and I give him the horses, how will he know who I am? Maybe I should write a note or something."

But in the midst of these thoughts, sure enough; a servant came out of the palace, motioned for him to stop and offered to buy the horses! He refused as the Rebbe told him to and, as the Rebbe said, the servant raised the price over and over.

He continued to refuse until, as the Rebbe had foretold, the Czar's name was mentioned. He feigned surprise, stood at attention, raised his eyes awestruck to the heavens and announced that he gives the horses and carriage as a heartfelt present to the glorious Czar (while in his heart he was praying to G‑d that he wouldn't get too much time in jail).

Meanwhile the Czar himself was watching all this from his palace window and his curiosity was strongly aroused. When he saw his servant returning with the horses without having paid anything, he sent another servant with orders to ask his benefactor for his full name and city of residence.

In moments the servant returned with the information and when the Czar heard it he shook his head knowingly saying, "A Jew? Ugh! Well, well, this Jew has succeeded in bribing even the Czar himself!"

This must be the Jew that was accused of sabotaging the ship!

As soon as he uttered those words, the Czar suddenly realized something. This name was familiar. Aha! He remembered! This must be the Jew that was accused of sabotaging the ship! But, unexplainably, something inside him told him that something was wrong; that the charges were trumped up.

He paced about in his room for a few minutes then went into the royal stables to admire the new gift horses. The more he petted and stroked them the more his intuition told him the Jew was innocent.

The next day the Czar issued an order to the Minister of Justice to delay the case until further notice and then formed an official committee and set off to investigate the ship personally. Sure enough, after a few hours of inspection and interrogation of the 'witnesses,' their evil plans were exposed! The charges were dropped and the real culprits were imprisoned.

The Jew was beside himself with awe for the Rebbe and joy for his release. At the first opportunity he went to the Rebbe to thank him profusely for the miracle he did.

But the Rebbe just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. "I did a Miracle? Ha! Not at all. The Al-mighty did the miracle! When you told me about your problem with the Czar, I recalled that the Torah forbids a Jewish king from increasing horses (Deut.17:16), and I reasoned that if even a holy king like King David or King Solomon has to be warned about horses it means that all other kings, including gentile kings, must have certainly have a lust for them!"

Connection to Weekly Torah Reading: Deut. 17:16
Seasonal Connection: the month of ELUL

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Rabbi Tuvia Bolton (based on Sipuri Chabad, vol. 15 pg 72); ohrtmimim.org/torah).

Biographical note:
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.

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.