Fear no man (1:17)

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch told:

The 'Enlightenment Movement', in their war on traditional Jewish life, were once again plotting to enlist the aid of the czarist government to further their aims. Heading the effort was a certain Mr. Karpos whom the authorities had installed as a rabbi in Odessa. He had prepared a voluminous thesis 'proving' that religion is the number one enemy of civilization and had concluded with the recommendation that the study of kabbalaand other fundamentals of Judaism be outlawed. He had then headed to Petersburg to present his 'findings' to the government.

My father received word of these developments and dispatched me to Petersburg to deal with the matter. The purpose of the trip was kept secret: I travelled with my wife, Rebbetzin Nechama Dina, and we made it known that we had gone for a medical consultation.

After several days in Petersburg I had made no headway whatsoever; all my connections and exertions were to no avail. I notified father by telegram that all my efforts to stop Karpos had failed. Father replied that I was to keep on trying.

When several more futile days had passed, I took the train home to personally inform father of the hopelessness of the situation. When I entered father's room he was preparing for the morning prayers; his tallislay folded on his shoulder and he was examining its tzitzis. I reported the events and failed efforts of the last few days, and concluded that, as I sew it, there was absolutely nothing to be done about the situation.

Said father: "Once Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi sent his son, Rabbi DovBer, on a certain mission. Rabbi DovBer returned empty-handed. When he arrived, he found his father with his tallisfolded on his shoulder, checking its tzitzisin preparation for the morning prayers.

"Said Rabbi Schneur Zalman: 'Do you see? This is a tallis. The tallisexpresses the level of the Transcendent Light1, and the Transcendent Light blinds all forces of evil.' Upon hearing this, Rabbi DovBer kissed his fathers tzitzisand went back. This time he succeeded."

Without another word, I took hold of father's tzitzis, kissed them, and caught the next train back to Petersburg. Again, I started racking my brains and making my rounds. Then, I had an idea. I went to Karpos' hotel and asked to see him.

Karpos received me warmly - it seems that he had heard of me or of my father. We sat and talked, and I brought up the subject of his dissertation. He spoke readily of his plans. "Soon we will see who will prevail" he challenged. "Soon, we of the Enlightenment will rid the Jewish people of your archaic notions and practices.

"I have already prepared all the material," he continued to boast, "now I have only to make a few finishing touches and it will be ready for submitting. Our czar's ministerial commission on culture and religions has scheduled to review the matter in a few days. Once and for all we shall make our case!"

"May I see what you wrote?" I asked.

"But of course. I have nothing to hide - in a matter of days, all will be decided" said the preening slanderer, handing me his manuscript.

Without a word I proceeded to tear the dissertation to shreds.

Karpos exploded in rage and frenzy. "What are you doing?! My lectures! My notes! Do you know how many months of research and writing are invested in these papers?!" I continued to tear the manuscript into tiny bits of paper. All the while he continued to bellow in rage, to curse and deride me. In his fury, he dealt me a resounding blow across the face.

When I finished with his papers, I ran from the hotel and returned to Lubavitch.