As the teachings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi ("the Alter Rebbe") became known, his influence grew and he attracted many followers. One young man who came to study the Rebbe's new path faced stern opposition from his wife's family. Meddling relatives were pressuring the young wife's father to arrange a divorce for his daughter.

Not wanting to end what seemed to be a good marriage, the father-in-law set off to visit the Alter Rebbe in the city of Liozna, determined to carry out his own investigation. He spent some time in the company of the Alter Rebbe and his chassidim and was very favorably impressed, becoming convinced that the new path his son-in-law had chosen was Torah-true. Prior to his return trip home, the father-in-law approached the Alter Rebbe with a question:

He spent some time in the company of the Alter Rebbe and was favorably impressed"I am very impressed with your chassidim. However, the Talmud teaches us1 to divide our Torah study into three parts; one-third for the study of Scripture, one-third for the study of Mishnah and one-third for the study of Talmud. Now it seems that the study of chassidism, with so many Scriptural references, should count as the third for Scripture.2 So why do I see your chassidim spending far more than a third of their time learning chassidic texts?"

"How do you earn your living?" the Alter Rebbe responded with a question.

"I own a store," answered the man.

"And how much is invested in your store?"

"Over 2,000 rubles."

"How much of that money is yours and how much is borrowed?" rejoined the Alter Rebbe.

"Only 500 rubles is mine. The rest is borrowed," said the man with a sigh.

"Well," continued the Alter Rebbe, "That seems to contradict the Talmudic dictum3 that instructs us to invest one-third of our money in real estate, another third in business and another third in ready cash. Not only have you divided your money improperly, you have even gone into considerable debt!"

"Ah, Rebbe," said the man, "that investment program might have been true in the times of the Talmud; however, in today's business climate one is required to take great risks, and even then success is far from assured."

"Indeed," said the Alter Rebbe, "the same is true regarding Torah study. In Talmudic times, one could follow the prescribed advice and all would be well. However, today things are different. Even with intense study of chassidism, proper conduct and fear of Heaven is far from assured."