It was time for the newly married Yehuda Eizel Zeitlin to go out and earn a living. Having studied in yeshivah until then, he assumed his career path would allow continued advances in Torah study, perhaps as a Torah teacher.

Unsure how to proceed, he traveled to consult with the second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Dovber of Lubavitch. But hundreds of other people had also gathered in line to meet the Rebbe, so Yehuda Eizel had but a few fleeting seconds to blurt out, “What profession should I seek?”

The Rebbe met his eyes squarely and said, “Open a store.” The Rebbe met his eyes squarely and said, “Open a store.”

Before the young man could utter another word, someone pushed him from behind, and he soon found himself outside.

Yehuda Eizel stopped to consider the Rebbe’s words. Was he truly cut out for running a business? Could he spend hours on end without Torah study? He conferred with his close friends, and they advised him to present his question to the Rebbe once again, this time explaining his hesitance.

A few days later, Yehuda Eizel had the opportunity to approach the Rebbe and ask his question.

“Haven’t I already told you?” replied the Rebbe with a touch of impatience. “I said to open a store, yet you want to be a teacher. I understand that you’re reluctant to cut yourself off from the ‘tree of life’ of Torah study. Here is a parable that may help you understand:

“Have you heard of the city Shklov?” the Rebbe asked. “Many prominent merchants live there. And what about the city of Leipzig, the city that hosts a trade fair for nine months of the year? Surely you’re familiar.

“For a merchant from Shklov, it takes a full month to travel to Leipzig and another month to return. By necessity, the merchant is away from Shklov for 11 months, nine at the fair and two on the road. So why do they keep calling him a merchant from Shklov? If he’s in Leipzig for so long, it seems they should call him a merchant from Leipzig!

“But what is the real purpose of the drawn-out trip to Leipzig? All the work he does for those nine months is solely for the success of the one month he spends at home in Shklov selling his merchandise.”

The Rebbe paused.

“This logic applies to you as well: If you realize that the entire day you spend in the store is just so you can learn for one hour, you will never lose touch with the Torah.”