A group of Chassidim were once sitting together at a Chassidic gathering in the town of Lubavitch when one of them was summoned to see the Rebbe of that time, Rabbi Menachem Mendel—known as the "Tzemach Tzedek." The Chassid hurried into the Rebbe's chamber and then was not seen for days.

Over that time, his friends were wondering what happened to him. When he finally showed up, they pressured him to reveal where he had been.

Said the Chassid:

"When I entered the Rebbe's room, he told me to travel to a certain village where a notoriously cruel anti-Semitic landowner lived and deliver the following message: 'The Rebbe said that it is already time to repent.' Apparently, the landowner was a renegade Jew.

I was amazed how the guards and their dogs totally ignored me"I was afraid to go because this landowner employed armed guards. Furthermore, his palace was surrounded by vicious dogs that would surely attack and even kill without hesitation. When I mentioned my fears to the Rebbe, he entrusted me with a kabbalistic formula which he told me to keep in mind while on the landowner's property. The Rebbe assured me I would be protected, so I set off.

"Upon arriving at the landowner's estate, I thought of the prescribed formula and entered the landowner's palatial home without difficulty. I was amazed how the guards and their dogs totally ignored me. I proceeded straight to the owner and delivered the Rebbe's message. The landowner's face changed as if he had just been roused from sleep. He answered, 'Yes, yes, I hear what you are saying.' I promptly turned around and headed straight back to Lubavitch. As soon as I got out of danger, I immediately forgot the incantation."

Over the following days, news spread that the anti-Semitic landowner had mysteriously disappeared. Despite great efforts to locate him, he was nowhere to be found. The Jewish community breathed a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, a man dressed in tatters arrived in Lubavitch. He stayed in the synagogue and spent all his time in prayer and study. No one knew his identity, but some quietly suspected that he was the missing landowner.

Elderly Chassidim respectfully approached the Tzemach Tzedek with a question: "Please, tell us Rebbe! If you have the ability to stir such a Jew to repentance, what about us? We, who spend so much time with you and try so hard to improve, why don't we find it easier to repent?"

The Tzemach Tzedek answered: "Imagine a shepherd tending to his flock. If he were to run after every sheep that strayed nearby, he would very quickly run out of energy. Instead, he stands in one place and calls to these wandering sheep or throws something in their direction to bring them closer. But if one of his flock falls into a deep pit or strays so far that it cannot return on its own, then the shepherd must go and bring it back."