R’ Moshe, the rabbi of Slavita, was a man with a big dream. He wanted to open a printing press, but he needed a permit from the Russian Minister of Printing and Censorship. The journey to Petersburg was long and difficult, but R’ Moshe was determined to make his dream a reality.

On his way to Petersburg, he stopped in Liozna to get the blessing of the Alter Rebbe, whom he held in great esteem. The Alter Rebbe surprised R’ Moshe with an unexpected suggestion. He told R’ Moshe to go to Mogilev and find R’ Yisroel the Melamed, a local teacher, and ask him to travel with him to Vilna. The Alter Rebbe promised that if R’ Moshe followed his advice, he would succeed in his endeavor.

Although R’ Moshe did not understand how this would help, he trusted the Alter Rebbe and set out to fulfill his instructions. He found R’ Yisroel and convinced him to go to Vilna. When they arrived, they went to the home of R’ Meir Refoels, a devoted disciple of the Alter Rebbe. They were still unsure what they were supposed to do there, but decided to stay until they gained some clarity.

On Shabbat, they took a stroll through a local park. As they walked, a well-dressed man approached them and asked the teacher from Mogilev, “Do you recognize me?” He introduced himself as Berel, his student from more than 20 years earlier. The teacher was surprised, because Berel did not look or dress in the manner of religious Jews.

Berel told them that the teacher had shown him great compassion when he was a rebellious young boy. Berel had misbehaved and, as was customary in those days, it was a given that he would be caned.

However, the kind-hearted teacher decided to forgo the punishment, saving Berel from pain and shame. Decades later, Berel still felt a debt of gratitude and wished there was some way to repay his erstwhile teacher for his kindness.

The teacher asked Berel what happened to him after he left his tutelage.

Berel replied that he couldn't find his place in the world of Torah scholarship, so he went to university, and was now taking a break from his position as the Minister of Printing and Censorship.

The three men were stunned as they realized how Divinely inspired Alter Rebbe’s advice had been.

The next day, R’ Moshe received his permit from Berel, and he returned to Liozna to thank the Alter Rebbe for his guidance and blessing.

And sure enough, he went on to found the vaunted Slavita printing press, which produced prized Chassidic works, Talmuds and more.

Are we always careful to have compassion even when the situation calls for discipline?