Rabbi Schneur Zalman (the first Chabad Rebbe) was once visited by a melamed (teacher) from Klimowitz.

"I have a small favor to ask of you," the Alter Rebbe said. "On your way home, please go through the town of Yanowitz and order for me mezuzot from Reb Reuven, the sofer [scribe]," he said.

"I think I’ll ask Reb Reuven to write some mezuzot for me as well."

Delighted with the opportunity to fulfill his Rebbe's request, the chassid departed immediately. Along the way he thought, "I think I’ll ask Reb Reuven to write some mezuzot for me as well. Yes, despite the high price, I’ll get a few. After all is there any greater proof of their quality than that the Rebbe himself buys his mezuzot from Reb Reuven?"

When the chassid arrived at the house of the scribe, he ordered the mezuzot for both the Alter Rebbe and himself. Reb Reuven told him he would have to wait several days. True to his word, a few days later the mezuzot were ready.

"Be careful not to mix up your mezuzot with the Rebbe's mezuzot," Reb Reuven cautioned, the melamed as he handed them over, carefully indicating which package was which.

The melamed decided to intentionally give the Alter Rebbe the wrong ones, and take the Rebbe's mezuzot for himself. He rationalized: "What possible harm could come from substituting one batch of mezuzot for the other? If the Rebbe notices the change, I can always apologize for having mixed them up."

When the melamed arrived in Liozna, he rushed to the Rebbe’s house to give him the mezuzot. The Rebbe carefully examined the package and looked intently at each of the mezuzot. Then he turned towards his chassid and said, "Are these the ones Reb Reuven sent to me?"

The melamed became nervous and reluctantly answered, "Perhaps I made a mistake and confused yours with the ones I bought for myself."

So he took out the second parcel and handed them to the Rebbe.

The Rebbe scrutinized them closely. Finally he looked up and said, happily, "Ah, yes. These are the mezuzot I ordered."

"Why did you sell me mezuzot that were not good?"

Upset and confused, the melamed went back to Yanowitz to confront the sofer, Reb Reuven. "Why did you sell me mezuzot that were not good?" he demanded in a loud voice.

He recounted to the scribe that he had mistakenly given the Rebbe the wrong package. Then he described in detail the Rebbe's reaction to the first set (the ones designated by Reb Reuven as the melamed’s mezuzot) and then to the second (the ones designated by Reb Reuven as the Rebbe’s mezuzot).

"It must be," he concluded, "that the first mezuzot were no good."

Reb Reuven answered gently. "Rest assured that your mezuzot were also written, as were the Rebbe’s, to the most stringent specifications, with the same concentration of thought, and with all the requirements set forth by the Holy Ari of Safed. The only difference between the two sets is that I had prior instructions from the Rebbe to write his only when the moon is full. That is why you had to wait several days in Yanowitz - I could not begin to write the Rebbe's mezuzot until the full moon. The Rebbe must have seen that the mezuzot you gave him were written before the full moon and so suspected they were the wrong ones."


Connection to the Weekly Torah Reading: one of the four mentions of tefilin in the Torah is in verse 11:20 – the second paragraph of Shema Yisrael.

Adapted from besht.com and from Sipurei Chasidim.
For the booklet of stories, of which the above is the title story, go to our store site: KabbalaOnline-shop.com.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shneur 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.