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The Squire’s Due Recompense

The Squire’s Due Recompense

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The resting place of the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel, of righteous memory, in the town of Lubavitch. (Photo: Library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad)
The resting place of the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel, of righteous memory, in the town of Lubavitch. (Photo: Library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad)

In the small Russian township of Batchaikov lived a kindly old squire. The squire owned many villages and forests, inhabited mostly by the employees of his holdings. The squire was exceptionally generous. He would exempt people from their obligations to him if they were poor, and offered special discounts for the local rabbi, ritual slaughterer, schoolteachers and cantors. Most Jews in and around Batchaikov made their livelihood off the squire’s estate.

Being old and frail and in poor health, the squire often visited a renowned medical specialist of the time, Dr. Berthenson. Also, he gradually entrusted the administration of his estate to his anti-Semitic chief manager, who quickly began implementing his prejudices. Gone were the exemptions for the poor and the communal employees. In less than two years, the Jewish community was impoverished.

Many of the members of the Jewish community of Batchaikov were followers of Rabbi Shmuel, the “Rebbe Maharash,” the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe (1834–1882). Mostly simple folk, they would visit their rebbe for a Shabbat or holiday, hear a chassidic discourse, be received for a private audience, and head home, confident that G‑d would surely bless them materially and spiritually. No one ever thought to trouble the rebbe with the details of the painful situation brewing in their hometown.

No one ever thought to trouble the rebbe with the details of the painful situationOne longtime Batchaikov resident, whose family had maintained close contact with the squire and his ancestors, was Reb Shmuel. This Reb Shmuel was visiting the rebbe when, during a private audience, the rebbe began questioning him about the state of affairs in Batchaikov. Reb Shmuel told him everything.

After admonishing Reb Shmuel for not informing him of the situation earlier, the rebbe gave Reb Shmuel explicit instructions. “Your squire’s life is in danger. Travel home. Tell him in my name that I know he is critically ill and the doctors have just about despaired of his life. Let him help the Jewish families who live on his properties; for every Jewish family he helps, I promise him one month of life and health.”

After returning home, Reb Shmuel tried to visit the squire, but was refused admittance. Since it was a pleasant summer day, the doctor requested that the squire be taken outside for a ride. As Reb Shmuel stood from a distance and watched the old, broken gentleman get into the carriage, his heart was pained. The moment the squire saw Reb Shmuel on the road, he invited him into his carriage.

Reb Shmuel climbed aboard the coach and immediately passed on the rebbe’s message. The squire asked Reb Shmuel to draw up a complete list of every Jewish family in Batchaikov and the neighboring areas who could earn a living from his estate. In total, Reb Shmuel compiled a list of over 160 families.

So it was that over 160 families, plus a few dozen more from the surrounding area, were once again able to make a living. And the squire recovered.

According to the squire’s tally, he was owed another fourteen months of life . . .About fourteen years later, Reb Shmuel was once again visiting Lubavitch, though the Rebbe Maharash had passed away some eleven years earlier.

Reb Shmuel related this story to his fellow chassidim, and then revealed the reason behind his visit: though the squire was exceedingly old, for the past fourteen years he had felt robust. Recently, however, he began feeling ill. He asked Reb Shmuel to visit the resting place of the rebbe to inform him that according to the squire’s tally, he was owed another fourteen months of life . . .

Reb Shmuel visited the rebbe’s grave and relayed the message. Needless to say, the rebbe kept his promise.

Rabbi Yossy Gordon was born in Worcester, Mass., and serves as Executive Vice President of the Chabad on Campus International. Rabbi Gordon makes his home in Miami Beach, Fla., with his wife, Rochel, and their six children.
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Michael April 15, 2013

Laura Mushkat's comment I would dearly love to hear even one more Rebbe story. Please tell a couple.

My own favorite is this. Two men visited the Rebbe to ask his blessing that their wives conceive a child. After their meeting, they spoke to each other and each had been told to hang his shoes from the ceiling.

A year later, they met again, waiting to see the Rebbe. One said, "I tried and tried to think of the significance of shoes hanging from the ceiling. I see that you, too, are back to ask the Rebbe's blessing again that your wife should conceive."

The other said, "No, actually, I hang my shoes from the ceiling. Now I am here to ask the Rebbe's blessing on my new son." Reply

Anonymous April 14, 2013

Reply to: Gavriel Eliezer ben Ze'ev Gershon As like in this story, many are are helped today by having their requests and issues read, or at least placed by the Rebbe's Ohel, this can be done today via ohelchabad.org Reply

Gavriel Eliezer ben Ze'ev Gershon Largo, FL June 27, 2011

Laura Mushkat's comment You have not become aware of some of the very remarkable effects that the Rebbe's have had in the material world that defy rational explanation. I have heard too many stories about the last Rebbe and his advice to do this or that and there would be a specific outcome, and that was exactly what occurred, to not believe that this story could (and did) literally happen as recounted. (Sorry for the long run-on sentence!) I am sorry that I did not know of the Rebbe or be able to ask his advice when he was alive. I wonder where I would be today! Reply

Shoshanna June 17, 2008

The power of a rebbe A rebbe is more than an ordinary human being, and Gd is way beyond human.

So the rebbe could have accomplished this.

Alas, for we have so few rebbeim any more. Many were taken by the Shoah. And the Lubavitcher Rebbe left no successor. Reply

daisy bribane June 17, 2008

this story touchs my heart and others Reply

Patty Kingsport, Tenessee America February 27, 2008

Rewards From Obedience! Aren't the rewards and blessings from God wonderful? Thank you so very much for sharing all of these wonderful stories, so very full of beautiful, pure, and true blessings. Thank you! That's all I can say! Not near enough! Reply

Daniel February 27, 2008

This story is for adults. It's true. Live for Gd and you will see that the story is true. Reply

Laura Mushkat schenectady, new york February 26, 2008

Good folk tale This is a very sweet story for children. Would that a human could accomplish this. Reply

Patty Kingsport, Tenessee America February 26, 2008

You give you're blessed I see in every thing I read, the teachings of obedience and faith, and the reward of God's blessings up on those that do just that. This is absolutely the most beautiful kind of stuff I've ever had the privelege of reading ever, in my life! Reply

The life and teachings of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the fourth Chabad Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Maharash
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