As the main ritual slaughterer for the community in Samarkand, uncle R. Boruch felt responsible for ensuring that the city had a proper shochet before he departed. There was another shochet in town, a Bucharian Jew by the name of Mulla - Rabbi - Yosef, but R. Boruch knew that we would be uncomfortable eating from his shechita as we didn’t know him personally.

Mulla Yosef was one of the boys whom R. Simcha Gorodetzky had sent to learn in Tomchei Tmimim, and he was regarded as one of the distinguished Lubavitcher Chassidim among the Bucharian community. During the flurry of arrests in Samarkand, he was arrested as a Lubavitcher Chassid and sentenced to 25 years in exile. It was only after Stalin’s death that he was pardoned and released.

My uncle testified to his fear of heaven and recommended him wholeheartedly. Uncle Boruch told us that after Mulla Yosef’s release from jail, he had approached him and explained that now that the danger had subsided, he wanted to resume kosher slaughtering. However, after having been out of practice during the five years he was in prison, he was now relearning the laws of shechita and how to properly prepare the knife used. He wanted my uncle to test him on the laws and on his ability to prepare and check the knife and, upon approval, present him with a new ordination for shechita.

My uncle, who knew Mulla Yosef as a righteous man and a fearer of heaven, hesitated to fulfill his request, protesting that he did not doubt his skill and expertise. But Mulla Yosef insisted, saying that if my uncle wouldn't test him and give him a new ordination, he would not resume slaughtering. Lacking an alternative, my uncle conceded. He examined Mulla Yosef’s skills and was satisfied by his proficiency in all of the laws. He gave him a knife full of nicks to flatten and level, and Mulla Yosef successfully smoothed it down again. Although my uncle was pleased, Mulla Yosef was not prepared to suffice with that. He asked my uncle to observe him as he slaughtered as well. After scrutinizing his method, which was done according to all of the laws and their stringencies, he gave him a renewed ordination for shechita.

My uncle told us all of this and concluded, “I guarantee that you can eat from his shechita without any misgivings whatsoever.”

Although we did eat from Mulla Yosef’s shechita after my uncle left town, there were some who, despite my uncles recommendations, wanted to verify that the knife was indeed properly smoothed down every time it was used. Since I had a bicycle and would go to purchase meat at the butcheR.s shop in theOld City where Mulla Yosef worked, they asked me to check the knife before it was used. I was capable of checking a knife, and even the most particular among them trusted me.

Still, it was a difficult job, as it was uncomfortable for me to ask Mulla Yosef to inspect his knife. In the world of shechita, not everybody - or more accurately, nobody - is too thrilled about giving his knife up to be assessed. And here was I, a young bochur of twenty, doubting the skill of Mulla Yosef, a distinguished middle aged man and experienced shochet. How could I have the audacity to ask for his knife? But I had no other option: Mulla Yosef's doubters had specified to me that if I refrained from inspecting the knife they would abstain from eating his meat. With a distinct feeling of discomfort, I biked up to the Old City.When I arrived, I tried to be diplomatic, and hint that I was interested in checking his knife.

I was amazed by his remarkable display of humility. He simply handed me the knife, as if my request had been the most natural one in the world. From then onward, he avoided slaughtering a calf for the Lubavitcher community before I came and examined the knife. On several occasions I was delayed, and upon my arrival the animal was already bound and laying on the ground. The butcher would be urging him to just go ahead and slaughter, as he feared the government’s interference. But Mulla Yosef did not respond to his shouts, nor did he question my late arrival. He merely asked me to follow him to a side room so I could study the knife with full concentration, undisturbed by the shouting. Later, in the 1960s, when R. Yaakov Notik moved to Samarkand, he used to alternate with me in checking the knife.

If it so happened that I did not feel satisfied by the condition of the knife, he would smooth it again on a towel. After the shechita, he would insist that I take first what I needed from the meat and then others would have their turn. All this was done with utmost simplicity and humility. I have no words to describe how taken I was by the impressive character and conduct of Mulla Yosef.