1Reb Shmuel Dov related: Once, during my stay in Czasznyk, a great desire arose among the young scholars to make a pilgrimage to Lubavitch. But Reb Mordechai Mashpia dissuaded us, saying that because the Mitteler Rebbe had been denounced to the government — and had in fact recently been in prison — it was not a good time to travel to Lubavitch.

A few weeks later, however, the rumor spread that the Mitteler Rebbe was traveling to the holy resting place of his father, the Alter Rebbe, in Haditch, and he would be passing through the towns of Zhlobin and Homel. Consequently, ten of us young folk decided to travel secretly to one of these villages.

One night during the month of Av, we departed Czasznyk in stealth, arriving in Zhlobin a week later. There, we found several hundred guests from throughout the vicinity, all of whom had come to see the Mitteler Rebbe. To our disappointment, we learned that the Rebbe was spending the night at an inn near Zhlobin, and would remain in town for only one day. Moreover, being exhausted from the journey, he would not lecture on Chassidus, nor would he receive visitors for yechidus.

I had the good fortune to find favor with Reb Meir Tzvi the butler. He allowed me to assist him in bringing water, and in other simple tasks. That evening, I had the privilege of hearing the Rebbe davening Maariv in his room. Later, when the butler Reb Meir Tzvi brought him a glass of coffee, I caught a glimpse of his holy face.

I waited up the whole night, hoping for another chance to see the Rebbe’s face. At about three o’clock, the butler opened the windows of the Rebbe’s room. At that very moment the Rebbe emerged, and — passing through the room where I stood — he fixed a penetrating glance upon me. Paradoxically, I was petrified, and at the same time captivated, by this. I knew that the Rebbe would have to pass through that room on his way back, but I lacked the courage to remain in my place. In great panic, I hid myself behind the door.

After the davening, Reb Meir Tzvi informed me that the Rebbe had inquired who I was. He had replied that I was from Czasznyk, a disciple of Reb Mordechai Horodoker. He thought it possible that the Rebbe might request that I be brought to his room. Hearing this, I grew very frightened, not knowing what to do. I was completely unable to think coherently, for my mind had gone blank. But G‑d, blessed be He, gave me the good sense to say some Tehillim; once I began my Tehillim, rivers of tears began to flow from my eyes.

Later, when Reb Meir Tzvi informed me that the Rebbe had actually sent for me, I became very flustered. It was only with Reb Meir Tzvi’s assistance that I managed to enter the Rebbe’s holy chamber. Being completely overcome emotionally, all I could manage to say were the few words, “Rebbe! I want to be a chossid,” after which I began to weep.

The holy Rebbe replied, Chabad demands intellectual activity, understanding, and concentration. If you work hard, you will become a chossid. May G‑d, blessed be He, grant you long life.” Reb Meir Tzvi cautioned me not to reveal to anyone that I had had the great privilege of going in to see the holy Rebbe.

During the day that the Mitteler Rebbe remained in Zhlobin, about two thousand chassidim arrived from the surrounding villages. Since it was Thursday, the chassidim made a great effort to persuade the Rebbe to remain in Zhlobin for Shabbos, but to no avail. At two in the afternoon the Rebbe departed Zhlobin, after issuing an edict that no person — except those who were actually traveling in his official entourage — should dare attempt to follow him on the road.

After the Rebbe left, I went to seek my companions from Czasznyk, who were mingled among the great throng of people. With much effort I managed to find them, and with great regret at not having heard the Rebbe lecture on Chassidus, we returned to Czasznyk. On Monday, after I arrived home in Czasznyk, during a moment when no one else was present in the beis hamedrash, Reb Mordechai Mashpia said that he detected an aura of spiritual purity about me. He commanded me to tell him what had happened to me, and I told him everything.

Reb Shmuel Dov married a Czasznyk woman — his cousin, the daughter of his maternal uncle. During the five years following his wedding, he was supported by his father-in-law, while he continued studying under the tutelage of Reb Mordechai Mashpia. In 5592 [1832], when the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek visited Minsk, Reb Mordechai Mashpia traveled there to see him, together with many of the young scholars. On that occasion, he took Reb Shmuel Dov along with him, and that was the first time he saw the holy Tzemach Tzedek.

In 5594, Reb Shmuel Dov made his first pilgrimage to Lubavitch; for personal reasons, he was unable to remain longer that two weeks. Various circumstances prevented him from making another trip to Lubavitch until Elul 5596, but this time he remained in Lubavitch until Nissan 5597. He was then about thirty years old, and he had already achieved fame among the chassidim. The Rebbe’s holy sons gave him honor, and even the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek himself bestowed great favor upon him.

As the chossid Reb Chanoch Hendel tells it, by the year 5603 [1843]2 Reb Shmuel Dov was considered one of the foremost chassidim. When the Rebbe returned home to Lubavitch from his trip to Petersburg during that year, Reb Shmuel Dov occupied a place in the first rank of the elder chassidim who went forth to welcome him.