1. [At the table, Radash1 said that Ramak2 was visiting the leading local misnaged and might possibly even mess him up…!3 ]

[The Rebbe nodded and said:] Yes, that’s possible, [and he added with a smile]: That’s because [Ramak] is one of the undiluted, 96-proof vintage oldtimers…

2. [Radash related an episode involving a chassid by the name of R. Avraham Chayim4 and a certain chazzan.]

[After this, the Rebbe said:5 ] The chassidim of those days knew no compromises. There was once a chassid who served in Vitebsk as a mashpia for married men. (One of them, by the way, was R. Shmuel Brin.) They were a group of frigid intellectuals who had their own minyan; their mashpia was their regular sheliach tzibbur; and their davenen was whispered, deliberate, and unemotionally intellectual.

With the approach of Rosh HaShanah, 5627 (1866), their mashpia visited my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, who would customarily ask visiting chassidim at yechidus, “Where are you up to?” This meant, “What was the focus of your last yechidus with my father, the Tzemach Tzedek?” When this mashpia was asked that question, he answered:“A baal-tefillah.”6

On this the Rebbe Maharashcommented: “A baal-tefillah is poised on the threshold. If he is as he should be, then he himself is worthy and is privileged to bring merit upon many people. If not, he is a sinner who causes many people to sin.”7

That mashpia remarked soon after that the Rebbe had tickled his heart into action, and had implanted a new soul within him. And when he returned home to Vitebsk and led the davenen of Kabbalas Shabbos in his customarily soundless shul, puzzled passers-by peeked inside to work out what was happening there – because this time the usual congregants were davening with more gusto than on the night of Kol Nidrei.

At another time the Rebbe Maharash said: “A baal-tefillah generally brings merit upon many people, whereas a chazzan generally causes many people to sin…”