Many stories and scores of Chasidic traditions which came down to us from generation to generation about the saintly Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the first exponent of general Chasidus; about his disciple, the Maggid (Preacher) of Mezeritch; and about my saintly ancestor, the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus-their saintly memory be blessed, and may their virtues be ever a shield unto us and all Israel-testify to their extraordinary love of simplicity and sincerity in the Divine worship of the Jew.

A story is told about the Rebbe, author of Tzemach Tzedek, 1 who was a famous gaon2 in Shass3 and posekim, 4 and who was versed in the books of Kabbalah and the writings of the Ari: 5

All night the Tzemach Tzedek had studied, and at dawn he stood up to pray. It was in the month of Sivan, and he was fasting. After spending some hours in devout prayer, he sat down to resume his study, still wrapped in his tallit and tefillin.

That same day, which was a market day, two Jewish residents of a village near Lubavitch, Benjamin-Bainush and Isaac-Saul, came to town. Both were rather ordinary men, but very pious; and they traveled together in same wagon.

Benjamin-Bainush soon sold his merchandise, and the day being long yet, went to the synagogue to wait for Isaac-Saul, who, after selling his wares, would be passing that street in his wagon and would, of course, turn into the synagogue for the mincha (afternoon) service. Afterwards they would ride home together.

On entering the synagogue, Benjamin-Bainush, a man of no learning, drew out a book of Psalms from his coat pocket, and began reciting the Psalms in a touching voice.

The saintly Rebbe, sitting wrapped up in his tallit and tefillin engrossed in study, soon perceived the voice reciting the Psalms, a voice coming from the depth of the heart, touching the very soul. The Rebbe turned to see who it was-Benjamin-Bainush, the villager. The Rebbe was moved to tears, envying the sincerity and simplicity of Benjamin-Bainush, an ignorant villager.

Just then Efraim Yoffe of Kopust entered, one of the most prominent Chasidim of the Rebbe's father-in-law, the Mitteler Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer. 6 The Rebbe said to the newcomer: I wish that I could recite even one verse of the Psalms with the simplicity and sincerity of Reb Benjamin-Bainush.

How true are the words of the Psalmist: 7The Lord is near to all who call unto Him, to all who call unto Him in truth.