Reb Shmuel Levitin was a Chabad Chassid who displayed tremendous self-sacrifice to keep the flame of Judaism alive during the dark days of Soviet Communism. He paid a price for his activities, spending several years in a Siberian gulag. Imprisoned together with him was another Jew who was quite a talented speaker.

Their warden was a Jewish communist named Mosei, who felt it his duty to be particularly brutal to religious prisoners. Occasionally, however, the light of his buried soul would emerge, and he would tell Reb Shmuel and his fellow Jewish inmate that his name was really Moshe. He would then share some pleasant memories of his youth which was spent in a Jewish environment. These moments of clarity would not last and he would soon revert to being mean Mosei.

The boy asked his father if he could speak to his teacher to go easier on himOnce, during a moment when Mosei was in "Moshe-mode," Reb Shmuel's companion asked Mosei if he was interested in listening to a story. Mosei responded in the affirmative.

"Once there lived a Jew in a remote village," the prisoner began. "Due to his poverty, he could not afford to hire a private teacher for his children, so he taught them himself. In order to make the arrangement work, he made a rule with his kids: During school hours he was a strict teacher, with all the trimmings. Otherwise, he was their gentle and loving father.

"One day after 'school' one of the children was having a tender talk with his father about the difficulties of 'school.' The youngster sweetly asked his father if he could please speak to his teacher to go a bit easier on him."

The prisoner concluded by saying: "Similarly, we ask Moshe to implore Mosei to go a bit easier on me and Reb Shmuel…"


The supplicatory prayer known as Avinu Malkeinu ("Our Father, Our King"), is recited on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days in between. G‑d is our father and our king. When we recite the Avinu Malkeinu prayer, we are asking our Heavenly Father to intercede with our King to be gentle with us and grant us a sweet new year.