of the honored and holy Rebbe, light of the world, the crown and glory of Israel, our saintly lord and master, Rebbe Shmuel.1

On 2 Iyar 5594,2 the Tzemach Tzedek's youngest child was born in Lubavitch. The name by which he was called in Israel is Shmuel.


The following is told about his birth and his bris milah:

The house of the Tzemach Tzedek was not touched by the fire of the year 5592.3 Nevertheless, after that fire he decided to purchase a plot of land on which to build a large house and beis hamedrash. Count Lubamirski instructed the manager of his estates to donate — from his forests — what­ever boards and timbers were needed to build the Rebbe's house. The peasants were to deliver the lumber and the construction workers were to build without charge.

The Tzemach Tzedek originally planned to dedicate the house during the festival of Shavuos, but the Rebbetzin strongly desired to give birth in their new home. Therefore, she went there as soon as her labor began. The rooms of the house had never been used, and so the Pesach utensils were stored there. Among them was a wooden bed-frame upon which the flour for the shmurah matzah4 was sifted (called a "sift-bed").5 Straw and hay were brought and spread out over this bed, and she lay down there.6

When the Tzemach Tzedek learned what was happening he came quickly and stood in the room, facing the wall, during the entire birth. He instructed his [three eldest] sons — the holy rabbonim Reb Baruch Shalom, Reb Yehudah Leib, and Reb Chayim Schneur Zalman — to go to one of the rooms in his house and recite Tehillim, chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 33, 47, 72, 86, 90, 91, 92, 93, 104, 112, 113 etc., to the end. He also instructed the midwife7 to immerse herself [in the ritual bath (mikveh) for purification] before receiving the child, and to receive the child in a piece of white linen cloth he had brought.8

On the second day of Iyar, the sefirah of Tiferes She­biTiferes,9 one hundred years after the Baal Shem Tov had revealed himself,10 Rebbetzin Chayah Mushka gave birth to a son. On the eighth day the Tzemach Tzedek issued instructions that the Shacharis service should be davened very early. By ten o'clock all the family members had arrived, headed by the holy Reb Chayim Avraham, son of the Alter Rebbe.11


The holy Reb Chayim Avraham would speak very little. His appearance was stunning: he was quite tall, and his facial features were the same as those of his father the Alter Rebbe. His face always carried a gracious expression. Rebbetzin Rivkah related: "When you looked at Uncle Chayim Avra­ham, you felt good inside." He possessed outstanding abilities, he was very diligent in Torah study, and he would daven at length. He never took interest in any subject other than Torah and avodah. He had a generous nature and he received everyone with a smile.

He was especially beloved by his father the Alter Rebbe. It once happened that he was late in arriving for the [Alter Rebbe's] public Torah discourse. But no one realized he was absent, for he would always stand among all the rest of the chassidim. As is known, before the Alter Rebbe would begin delivering his maamar he would sit there in great deveikus for a time, sometimes as long as a half hour or more; afterwards he would begin the lecture. On that occasion, before he began the maamar he said in the tone of a question: "Where is my son, Reb Chayim Avraham?" He then continued in an undertone: "The sun that is hidden; the sun of the world of thought!"

The holy Reb Aharon of Strashelle related: "When I attended the bris milah of the holy Reb Chayim Avraham, I heard it said in the name of the Alter Rebbe that his son was named Chayim Avraham [for the following reason]: he named him Avraham after his Rebbe, the holy Reb Avraham, son of the Maggid. But he did not want [his children to be] angels;12 he desired that they engage in avodah with their living souls. Therefore, he named him Chayim Avraham.13 Our forefather Avraham was first called Avram, and only later Avraham. But a Rebbe who is the son of a Rebbe is called Avraham from the start; nevertheless, he is also called 'Angel.' However, Chayim Avraham refers to a living soul, the 'life of Avraham.'"

Since it was already two hours past noon and the Tzemach Tzedek was still secluded in his holy chamber, the assembled guests became nervous. But the holy Reb Chayim Avraham remarked, "He is busy entertaining more important guests than we,"14 and he sighed.

After about half an hour, the Tzemach Tzedek emerged from his chamber. His face was radiant, his eyes were tearful, and he held a red handkerchief in his hand. "The bris will take place today," he announced; he paused for a short while, then returned to his chamber.

Reb Chayim Avraham rose from his place, went over to the window, and leaned his head on his arms, deeply engrossed in his thoughts. The Tzemach Tzedek's sons discussed Torah subjects and Chassidus, but the other guests became more and more nervous. The Rebbetzin sent someone to find out why the bris was being delayed until such a late hour. She instructed the messenger to enter his chamber and ask her husband the Tzemach Tzedek directly, but Reb Chayim Avraham intercepted the messenger.

When three o'clock had passed, the Tzemach Tzedek emerged from his chamber again with a joyful expression on his face and told the guests to cheer up, for the bris would take place that day. Then he returned to his chamber. At four o'clock he emerged for the third time, and said that they should not daven Minchah, for the bris milah would take place shortly. A short while later he left his chamber and went to the room of the child's mother to consult with her about what name to give the child. He also issued instructions to prepare the child. Then he returned to the minyan room and com­menced the procedure for the bris.


Reb Dov Ber, son of Reb Yosef, related that he was present when his father performed the circumcision. During the pro­cedure the child screamed loudly and uncontrollably. But the Tzemach Tzedek took his left hand out from under the pillow upon which the child lay, and put it on the child's head. The child began to laugh, and cried no more.


When they finished reciting the blessings, the Tzemach Tzedek began saying Ashrei, and instructed them to daven Min­chah quickly — the service was led by his brother-in-law, the holy Reb [Menachem] Nachum, son of the Mitteler Rebbe. Immediately afterward they sat down to the feast.

During the meal, the holy Maharil15 inquired: "After whom has he been named? We don't have such a name in our family"; in an undertone he continued, "perhaps [he is named] after Shmuel HaNavi?"

The Tzemach Tzedek replied, "[He is named] after a water carrier in Polotzk who was called Shmuel. 'A wise man is greater than a prophet.'16 [It is written]: 'The days of our years therein [בהם] are seventy....'17 There are various sorts of days — eighty, seventy; bahem18בהם19 together with its letters."20בהם21

At the end of the month of Sivan 5642 the Rebbe Maharash remarked: "Father said 'bahem together with its letters.' That means fifty."22 He then sighed deeply23


When he was seven years old he studied under his second melamed, Reb Pesach. He was already thoroughly versed in Chumash and a large portion of Nach, and was already study­ing Gemara with the commentary of Rashi and selections from Tosafos. While playing with his friends he would review Tanach by heart.

It was the Tzemach Tzedek's custom to test him and his elementary school classmates24 once a month. After the exami­n­ation he would give them gifts of silver coins. The Maharash added these coins to his allowance of one paper ruble25 every Friday, and he would purchase seforim with this money.

Once, during the examination, his melamed was amazed at how well he knew it. The Tzemach Tzedek remarked, "For Tiferes ShebiTiferes this is not so amazing!"26

During the summer of the year 5601, he began listening to the maamarim on Chassidus. When he was about ten years old, the incisive and profound scholar Reb Shalom of Keidan (Kovna County) was engaged as his melamed. Twice a week his brother, the holy Reb Yisrael Noach, studied with him, four hours each session. The Rebbe Maharash related to his son, the Rebbe Rashab: "My brother — your uncle Maharin27 — was a very profound and diligent scholar. And though he was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old at the time, Father already took great pride in his scholarship."

At that time — the year 5603 — the geonim Reb David Luria of Bichov, Reb Nechemiah of Dubravna, Reb Yitzchak Aizik of Vitebsk, Reb Peretz of Beshenkovitch, etc. arrived in Lubavitch to confer on matters of public affairs. Reb David Luria engaged the Maharash in complex debates about what he was studying, and the Maharash won the debate. When Reb Peretz met with the Tzemach Tzedek he told him about the debate and the victory. The Tzemach Tzedek remarked: "After all, his bris milah took place on Tiferes ShebiNetzach!"28

When he was twelve years old, he began to study Mish­nayos by heart with diligence. This was in addition to his studies with Reb Shalom. His father would study Kesuvim with him three times a week, and his brother, the holy Reb Baruch Shalom, taught him the liturgical notes for chanting Nevi'im and Kesuvim, as he had received them by tradition from the Alter Rebbe.


During the month of Elul 5605, a seforim-seller came to Lubavitch. The Maharash wished to purchase seforim; since most of his money was held for him by his father the Rebbe, he came to him and requested that he give him the sum of thirty silver rubles. When his father inquired what he needed such a large sum for, he said that he wished to purchase seforim. His father replied: "First know clearly the seforim you already possess!"29

The Maharash answered his father: "And what about you? Are you thoroughly familiar with all the seforim that you have? Nonetheless, you buy [new ones] each year. Even when you recently returned from the Rabbinical Assembly in Petersburg you brought seforim back with you."30

The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "Take any sefer at random from the bookcases, and test me."

The Maharash went and took the first sefer that came to his hand, which happened to be entitled Sefer HaMaslul. His father said that it is a book on dikduk, organized in excellent fashion. He read to him by heart several passages from the introduction, titled "The Tiled Floor," and also from the body of the sefer, everything verbatim, exactly as written.

[The Maharash] replaced that sefer and took the next sefer which was Masores HaMasoros. His father told him that this was also a dikduk sefer, and recited the text by heart. The Maharash then put down that sefer and took the sefer standing next to it, Mesilos Chochmah. His father said that it was a sefer of the principles of Kabbalah, and he recited by heart the pas­sages that he was requested. The Maharash then took the next sefer in order, Mesilas Yesharim. His father told him that this was a mussar sefer, and recited by heart the requested pas­sages. The Maharash then took the next sefer, Mas'os R. Binyamin. He questioned his father about several passages, and he recited the required text exactly, including the geo­graphic names, etc.

Grandfather was quite amazed at this. But he was most amazed by his father's knowledge of the works on dikduk. He said to his father: "Isn't it a fact that chassidim do not pay attention to the dikduk when davening or reading from the Torah?"

The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "Davening is one thing and reading from the Torah is another thing. With davening the main thing is the inner intent, and the mere moving of the lips constitutes the act [of prayer]. Dikduk is not so important, ex­cept in Kerias Shema. But reading from the Torah must be according to dikduk. My grandfather the Alter Rebbe was very careful even with the cantillation of the Torah reading. He usually read the Torah himself. If by chance someone else happened to be reading and made some mistake with the cantillation, he would instruct him to repeat the whole verse."

In the end, his father gave the Maharash the requested sum from his money, and added another ten silver rubles besides, as a gift. He then purchased many seforim.


Grandfather [the Rebbe Maharash] related
to my father [the Rebbe Rashab]:

Since my early youth, I have always loved to peruse seforim. But I disliked introductions that featured fancy language and rhymes, except for the poetry of the very early writers, whose every word was filled with deep wisdom. That winter my father [the Tzemach Tzedek] gave me a notebook containing the handwritten manuscript of Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah31 to study before my bar mitzvah. I made a copy for myself in my own handwriting and at the same time I taught myself to duplicate Father's penmanship exactly while writ­ing.


The Rebbe Maharash continued:

Father wrote the maamar Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah in the year 556632 The Alter Rebbe saw it and took great delight in it. Once, the Alter Rebbe sent for my mother and requested her to bring several booklets that Father was writing for himself. Mother had no idea which booklets to bring, for there were many bundles of manuscripts.33 When she saw a certain collec­tion that contained many booklets she brought that one, and it contained the maamar Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah.

The Alter Rebbe then sent for his brother — our uncle Maharil34 — and for Reb Pinchas Reizes, saying to them that he had to recite the blessing of SheHechiyanu, and he wanted them to answer Amein:

For "By the word of two witnesses ... the word (of G‑d) shall be established."35 It is written:36 "And as for Me, this My covenant ... My Spirit which is upon you37 ... and My word which I have placed in your mouth38 shall not depart from your mouth and from the mouths of your children and from the mouths of your children's children."

Sons of daughters are also regarded as sons for the purpose of completing the perfection; when a child is born, it gives proof of the perfection of the one who gave birth to him, and the third generation completes the perfection of the one who gave birth to the one who gave birth to him.

He then explained the difference between mere writing and engraving, referring to the verse mini machir yardu mechokekim (as explained in Yevamos 62b). He also told them of the maamar Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah that he had seen. Then he stood up and recited the blessing of SheHechiyanu, includ­ing G‑d's Name and Majesty, to which they responded Amein.

During that year, a very serious Halachic inquiry was brought before the Alter Rebbe. Usually, he would refer the responsa to his brother, our uncle Maharil. But now that the Alter Rebbe had seen the manuscripts of my father the Tze­mach Tzedek on both Chassidus and Nigleh he instructed our uncle Maharil to discuss the matter with Father. They — my father the Tzemach Tzedek and my great-uncle Maharil — spent several days in complex discussion of the subject, and then they came before the Alter Rebbe to give their opinion. The Alter Rebbe instructed them to put it in writing. Father told me about how wonderful it was to see the glow on the Alter Rebbe's most holy face when he discussed Halachah.

A few days later they brought their written response to the Alter Rebbe. He sent for his brother, our uncle Maharil, and said to him:

See how great is the power of exerting oneself in Torah study. He39 possesses outstanding abilities. His intellectual prowess is in Rashi's style, his pilpul and his ability to explain a subject are in the style of the authors of Tosafos, he has thorough knowledge and is able to put it in order in the style of the Rambam, he is incisive and has the quick grasp of the Rashba,40 and he is profound and capable of developing novel insights in the style of the Ran.41

The story of the complex discussions about the Halachic inquiry became public knowledge. When Anash gathered at the Alter Rebbe's court during Tishrei 5567, the story of the blessing of SheHechiyanu also became known, and so the chas­sidim began to recognize my father's greatness and to honor him more for it. During Simchas Torah they told him that the Alter Rebbe had seen his manuscripts. Father was then quite vexed with my mother, and in his anger he threatened to divorce her.42

Mother replied that she had once heard that honoring one's paternal grandfather is even greater than honoring one's own father, for the father is also obligated to honor the grand­father. Thus, what else could she have done when the Alter Rebbe had sent for her and instructed her to bring the manu­scripts? Furthermore, he — the Tzemach Tzedek — ought not to forget that he too was obligated to honor his grandfather like his father, for he had raised him; moreover, he was also his Rebbe.

Father (the Tzemach Tzedek) replied that he would consider the law regarding this matter. But since he now bore a grudge against her he could not live with her until after he completed his investigation.

Mother — though she was very strong willed — was completely broken hearted and she wept for several days because of this. She waited for about two months hoping that my father the Rebbe would change his mind. After that she told the story to her father, my saintly grandfather,43 who was quite amazed by this story. He sent for my father and began speaking to him about it, but he saw that he had firmly made up his mind about it. Therefore he told the story to the Alter Rebbe.

On Shabbos Parshas Miketz, which was Shabbos Chanukah, the Alter Rebbe delivered the maamar Tanu Rabbanan, Mitzvas Ner Chanukah with the two biurim;44 the biurim were recited in his private chamber. Father related that after every­one had departed, his grandfather the Alter Rebbe had said:

I am aware that you are now researching a certain subject in Halachah, but you are personally involved in the case; thus, it will be very difficult for you to accomplish it truthfully. I desire to investigate the matter together with you. Two G‑dly souls working together against one intellectual soul will be able to discover and refine the true Halachah.

Father concluded that the law was on his side, but he later changed his mind and regretted having thought about di­vorcing my mother. The Alter Rebbe said to my father:

I wish to remove every grudge you may have in your heart against her — on the contrary, you must seek to make her happy. Therefore, I will now begin a regular study session in my home. I will study Nigleh with you twice a week, and three times a week I will recite for you maamarim that I have said in the past, and Torah commentaries I received from my Rebbeim.

In you [and your wife] may the verse be fulfilled,45 "Plant vines of pleasantness, and may what you have planted increase, and your seeds blossom."46

He then leaned upon his arm in deveikus in his usual fashion, and emitted a great sigh as he recited the end of the verse, "...a pile of produce harvested on a day of sickness and mortal pain."47

While they were studying, Father showed the Alter Rebbe his Sefer HaMitzvos and numerous commentaries he had written on Torah teachings he had heard [from the Alter Rebbe], which he had written for himself since about the year 5564. The Alter Rebbe kept his promise to my father regard­ing the study session. Each lesson lasted an hour and a half — in wintertime it was held after Maariv and in summertime it started at seven in the morning, or sometimes seven-thirty.

Father told me that after each of these sessions he would seclude himself for six hours consecutively to review the les­son he had just learned. For three hours he would study aloud while thinking it over in his mind; the next three hours he would be busy writing the subject down. He would begin with a verbatim transcription of what he had heard, being careful to preserve the Rebbe's words exactly as they had been said. This usually took him more than an hour. The rest of the time he spent writing notes of commentary and sup­plements on what he had just heard, noting citations from other works, resolving passages that had been previously set aside pending further investigation, and making a list of diffi­culties to be resolved at the following session.

During the year 5568 he saw — for the first time — the manuscripts that the Alter Rebbe had in his possession: things he had written or received while in Mezritch. Among them were numerous Torah teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, with notations about the time when they had originally been recited. There were also commentaries by the [Baal Shem Tov's] disciples, chiefly the Maggid, and the Maggid's own Torah teachings as they had been recited, along with com­mentaries by his son the holy Reb Avraham.

Among these manuscripts were also short notes in the Baal Shem Tov's handwriting, and some teachings and stories in the Maggid's handwriting and the holy Rebbe [Reb Yaakov Yosef] of Polonoye. There were also five maamarim that the holy tzaddik Reb Nachum [of Chernobyl] himself had heard from the Baal Shem Tov. He had written this in his own handwriting and had given it to the Alter Rebbe as payment for having repeated to him five maamarim that the Alter Rebbe had heard privately from the Maggid. Additionally, there were some maamarim by other disciples, chiefly the holy Reb Avraham, son of the Maggid, and the holy Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk. All these maamarim and transcriptions were packaged in three bundles, besides five bundles of handwritten transcriptions by the Alter Rebbe, of what he himself had heard from the Maggid.

Beginning at that time — 5568 — the Alter Rebbe would from time to time give my father one of these maamarim to study, with the stipulation that no one at all was to know of it. He was only permitted to study the manuscript, and was not to make a copy for himself. Father told me that those three years (5567-69) were days of great happiness for him, and remained engraved upon his heart. They were the most bril­liant days of his holy life — days filled with everlasting light and good.

The Rebbe Maharash told the Rebbe Rashab:

My mother passed away 8 Teves 5621, which was a Fri­day, Erev Shabbos Parshas Vayigash. On Motzoei Shabbos I was with my father, and he was highly agitated. While speaking to me, he said:

The holy words spoken by my grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, during Teves 5567 have come to pass: "...a pile of produce harvested on a day of sickness..." Fifty-four years have elapsed from then until this day, the same as the value of sb. Now I understand Grand­father's sigh, for he was foretelling the meaning of the end of the verse.48

Father then emitted a great sigh and continued: "I received a promise of long life from my grandfather — a clear promise. But yechidus takes a great toll on my health. I do not know how many years this will come to."

Father then began speaking about the maamar that the Alter Rebbe had delivered on Parshas Vayigash 5567, the first Shabbos after he had become reconciled [with Mother] fol­lowing their estrangement; it is the maamar in Torah Or, Vayigash Yehudah. On that Motzoei Shabbos the Alter Rebbe had sent for him and asked whether he already knew the whole maamar; he had replied that he knew it only in outline. He then reviewed it together with him, and instructed him to write a transcription. [Father said]:

When I brought him the transcription, Grandfather approved it, and he was in a very good mood. Your mother (his granddaughter) had been to visit him, and had thanked him for restoring peace and bringing them back together, and for his blessing. He then re­cited for me privately a commentary on the maamar. It is the passage U'LeTosefes Biur, in Torah Or at the end of Parshas Vayigash.

During the next few months I taught myself the art of writing well. I would record in a notebook everything I heard from my father and every story I heard from chassidim. Father told me that when he was my age he would make every effort to sit at gatherings of chassidim and to listen to their talk. In the middle of that winter Father began studying Tanya with me. At the time, my father the Tzemach Tzedek was writing the commentary beginning with the words LeHavin haKushya...,49 which comprises five chapters, and also the second synopsis, beginning with Chapter One, until the end.50

During the year 5566 he began an in-depth study session for himself, in Tanya, to consist of one chapter a week. But he studied only the first chapter; then — because he was very busy with his diligent study of Nigleh and with writing and studying the maamarim he had heard — the study session ceased. Nevertheless, he wished to have an outline of the subject of each chapter firmly fixed in his mind. Therefore, he wrote a general summary — it is the summary on the first eighteen chapters.51

I studied Mishnayos by heart very diligently; I knew five orders thoroughly, and a few tractates of Seder Taharos. Father had told me that by the time I became bar mitzvah I was to know all Six Orders of the Mishnah thoroughly by heart, as well as Tanach and Tanya, perfectly to the letter.

The night before my bar mitzvah I slept for two hours in Father's room. Then, the event I told you about happened. He also put a gartel [on me] before davening, reciting the verse, "She has girded her loins with strength...."52 Next, he recited a short maamar on the verse "Gird your sword upon the side of the mighty warrior...."53
We then davened with the congrega­tion in great joy. Many chassidim had come for the occasion. Father said Chassidus three times.

After the festival of Shavuos that year I listened to all the maamarim, and reviewed them by myself in private. Father would give me the maamarim to copy, but only after I had repeated them to him by heart.

Up to this point [the text has been taken from] the notes of my father-in-law, [Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson,] the Rebbe Shlita.