Note: In 1936, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), submitted these excerpts from his diary (in the original Hebrew) for publication in Hatamim, a chassidic periodical published in Warsaw in the 1930's. The English translation presented here is from Links in the Chassidic Legacy by Shimon Neubort, in somewhat condensed form (the full version can be viewed in our online library).


Petersburg, Tuesday, 11 Shvat, 5672 [January 30, 1912]; Hotel Estari, Room no. 527; 11:30 A.M.

I have just now arrived on the Paris-Petersburg express. This train travels along the French and Italian coasts, along the following route: Paris, Marseilles, Nice, Monte Carlo, Menton, Ventimiglia, Genoa, Frankfürt, Berlin, Königsberg, Kovna, Petersburg. I spent about two hours in town, and informed all my associates that I had arrived. However, I am exhausted from the trip, and I also desire to record what occurred during my travels. Therefore, I told my associates that we would not meet until nine o'clock this evening.

I traveled by express train in a private compartment. In fact, all the compartments on this train were for single occupants. The train left Paris on [Saturday night] at 11:30 P.M. Upon entering my assigned compartment, no. 3, I discovered that it was furnished with a table and chair in addition to the bed, and a wash-room that was shared with the adjoining compartment. There was also a bright lamp, which led me to believe that I would be able to do some writing. But when the train started to move, I found that its speed made it impossible to write more than a few sketchy notes, and even this entailed some difficulty...

The trip along the seacoast was very beautiful; the wonderful feelings evoked by this glorious scenery really deserve to be recorded in full. Unfortunately, time does not permit this, and I will only describe my impressions of a chance meeting with a chassid of the M. family who for various reasons had experienced a progressive spiritual descent (may we be spared such a fate). But Divine Providence arranged things so that he would not remain lost, and could rehabilitate himself...

At six o'clock, I entered the dining car to drink a cup of tea while reading several urgent letters given to me by my father in Menton. At one of the tables sat an elderly Jew eating his dinner, which included [non-kosher] meat and wine. As soon as I entered the car, the man put on his hat and approached me, extending his hand in greeting of Shalom Aleichem! "Are you the son of the Rebbe Maharash,1 or perhaps his grandson?" he inquired.

My first impulse was not to answer him, for I was quite upset with this person who ate non-kosher food. But since his facial expression was very gracious, I quickly changed my mind. "Yes," I replied, "I am the grandson of the Rebbe Maharash of Lubavitch."

Upon hearing my reply, his face grew red and his eyes filled with tears. Without another word he returned to his table, summoned the waiter, paid his bill, and departed without finishing his meal.

At eleven o'clock that evening, the train arrived at the station in Frankfürt am Main, where it stopped for some time. I got off the train for a breath of fresh air, and I noticed that this person had done likewise, and was now walking toward me. He approached and said that he would like to tell me an interesting story. He was quickly overcome with emotion, and tears flowed from his eyes, rendering him unable to speak. Meanwhile, the time arrived for the train to depart. I entered my car, and he entered his.

Early the next morning we arrived in Berlin. When I got off the train for some air, the man approached me again and wished me "Good morning," complaining that he had been unable to sleep a wink all night.

When the train left Berlin, I stood up to daven [pray]; there had been no opportunity to do so earlier, as it was still before daybreak. Before I finished my prayers the porter entered my compartment and informed me that one of the passengers wished to come in and visit me. I instructed him to apologize for the delay, and to inform the man that he would be able to enter in half an hour.

At the appointed time the person entered and apologized for disturbing me. "I am so overcome with emotion that I am unable to speak," he said. He began weeping loudly, which made a great impression on me. The man appeared to be over fifty years old, and was dressed in elegant fashion. His beard was shaven, and his moustache was curled in an ornate style. Suddenly, without a word, he covered his face with his hands and broke into bitter tears.

I was confused by this scene, not knowing whether to attempt to comfort him or to let him be. As I was watching him, his whole body shuddered; I thought that perhaps he had gone mad, or that some other misfortune had occurred to him. Unable to bear it any longer, I began to comfort him. Within a few moments he began to speak in a trembling voice, "Do me a spiritual favor please lend me your tefillin."

I could scarcely believe my ears: what he was requesting was the favor of lending him my tefillin! Before I could question him further, he exclaimed, "Ach, mein G-t! I have no idea how many years it's been since I last put on tefillin," and he wept unceasingly.

I opened my suitcase, took out my Rashi tefillin, and gave them to him, saying that he could daven in my compartment. I left the compartment, allowing him to pour out his heart before G‑d undisturbed. He continued davening for quite a long time. When he finished, I entered the compartment and he returned the tefillin to me with profuse thanks, asking to borrow my Siddur. I assumed that he wished to say some chapters of Psalms and to use the Siddur for the afternoon prayers.

He then returned to his own car, without telling me who he was. It was evident that the man had undergone some inner turnover, but I still had no idea who this person was or what had happened to him.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, the porter came to me again, relating that the same passenger who had visited me that morning now wished to see me again. I gave my consent, and he entered my compartment. His face was white, and had a very sad expression. In a weak voice, as though he were ill, he began to speak.

Y.M.'s Story

My name is Mr. Y.M., and I am the son Reb Leib M., who was born in the city of S., and was one of your grandfather's chassidim. During my childhood and adolescence, I studied in cheder, and was taught by the finest melamdim, who were chassidim and men of good deeds. The chassidim would assemble in my father's home on every chassidic festive occasion, and I was, of course, one of the first to attend.

Eventually, however, my father moved from S. to Petersburg. It is true that even there his lifestyle was based on the principles of Torah and Chassidism, and even there chassidim regularly gathered in his home. However, I was influenced by the children of our various neighbors, and began to follow in their ways.

One day toward the end of summer, while we were living at our vacation home in a suburb of Petersburg, Father told me that when he traveled to Lubavitch for the coming Rosh Hashanah, he planned to take me with him. I was then about fifteen years old, and I had already sampled the lifestyle of the neighboring youths, who accepted no restrictions to indulging their appetites. Obviously, I had no relish for Father's plans to take me to Lubavitch.

When the time came, my father set off for Lubavitch along with two other chassidim, taking me along too. About ten other people, members of the well-known chassidic A., A., and T. families, joined our party. Five or six others, whose expenses were paid by the wealthy K. Brothers, also traveled to Lubavitch.

Seeing the face of your grandfather the Rebbe made an indescribable impression on me. When I entered his chamber together with my father for yechidut, he gave me an explicit blessing for success in everything I did. But he cautioned me to remember that I was a Jew, for the company I was presently keeping was quite hazardous.

The impressions of my trip to Lubavitch affected me for a long time after our return to Petersburg, and stopped me from associating with the sons of our gentile neighbors. To their great surprise, I even refrained from joining their festivities and games during their holiday season, which I had done in previous years. This situation continued until the next summer, when we again moved to our vacation home.

When we were in our summer home, I was already a high school student, and little-by-little I began to associate with my young contemporaries. Some of them were scholarly and possessed refined qualities, while others sought a life of pleasure. But all of them influenced me to estrange myself from the lifestyle followed in our home.

On one occasion I came home late, and failed to daven the Minchah and Maariv prayers Another time, being in a hurry to join my friends in swimming, I skipped the morning Shacharit prayer. On a third occasion, I ate with them. Thus, over the summer months, I abandoned the religious way of life to which I had been accustomed in my father's home.

When we returned to the city from our country home, Father began to prepare for his annual Rosh Hashanah trip to Lubavitch, but I remained at home. I remember it as if it were today: when I went to shul during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the whole scene seemed foreign to me.

During the gentile holiday season, I spent all my time with my non-Jewish friends, rarely coming home. Once, when I did come home, it was to see my mother and ask her to give me a few hundred rubles. Twice, I visited my father's office to ask his cashier for some money that I needed.

When the holiday season ended and I returned home, Father admonished me and said that he was ready to give me as much money as I needed. But he demanded that I sever all my ties with my young friends, the delinquent schoolboys. I replied that I was already grown up, and would live as I myself chose, for my parents had no right to interfere with my private life.

To demonstrate my independence, I left my parents' home, and found myself an apartment of my own. Thus, the next six years passed. I finished high school, got married, and led the totally secular life I had chosen for myself, almost completely forgetting my former lifestyle in my father's home.

The Maharash's Influence

At that time, a society was founded, called the "Young Progressives." The goal of this society was to champion the cause of the oppressed and the downtrodden, to look into their well-being, and to afford them moral and material support. A major part of the society's efforts was devoted to the economic situation of our fellow Jews.

One day, in December 1881, I met an acquaintance who told me that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was visiting Petersburg, and had gone to see several high government officials with whom he had discussed the economic situation of the Jewish people.

Being a member of the Young Progressives, I was curious to find out what your grandfather had accomplished in the community's behalf. For this purpose, I went to Hotel Serapinsky in Zablakonsky Street, where your grandfather was staying.

When I arrived at the hotel, I met numerous chassidim whom I had not seen for many years since leaving my father's house. They were overjoyed at seeing me; for the first time, I became aware of the warm love chassidim have for their brethren, even for those who have gone astray.

I then remembered the uproar that had ensued in Father's home during the first few days after I moved out and went to live in my own apartment in Pushkinsky Street with a few of my young friends. Before my eyes I saw once again as though it were happening at that very moment two of my father's friends, who had visited me and entreated me to return to my father's home. I had been overcome by their display of love and affection toward father and me, as they had wept passionate tears in sympathy with father's distress.

I had no doubt that over the years they had spoken of me from time to time, and had inquired about my lifestyle. I am certain that knowing my lifestyle caused them inner pain. Nevertheless, when they met me at the entrance to the hotel, they greeted me with open arms and warm regards, as if I was one of their number.

The chassidim possess a unique quality: love for their fellows, without regard to rank or standing. It makes no difference to them whether one is poor or rich, elderly or young. This quality places them on the highest ethical level. More than once, we nonobservant young folk spoke among ourselves about this quality of love for one's fellow, and how we ought to take an example from the chassidim in this regard.

This meeting in Hotel Serapinsky affected me greatly, and left me with a warm feeling that words cannot describe. As I stood there daydreaming about the old days, I was startled by the sudden sound of voices crying, Baruch A-donai hamvorach leolam vaed. At first I had no idea what this was, but I quickly realized that they had begun to pray the evening Maariv prayer. Your grandfather the Rebbe emerged from his room and recited Kaddish, because that day happened to be the yahrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe2, author of the Tanya.

It took three days for me to calm the emotions aroused within me by that meeting with my old acquaintances from the days of my youth. I was even more overcome by the Kaddish I heard your grandfather recite, for it reminded me of the time I had spent in Lubavitch.

On January 4, [1882] we members of the Young Progressives discovered that the Minister of Internal Affairs had hinted to the governors of Kiev, Chernigov, and other territories that they were to instigate pogroms against the Jews. We knew that your grandfather had come to Petersburg on communal business. The main focus of his trip was the pogroms that had begun in the southern regions, and the wave of anti-Semitism that was then sweeping the country.

We were also aware of his great influence in government circles, and that he had explicitly and forcefully demanded that the Jewish citizens of the country be protected. We therefore decided to send several of our members to share our information with your grandfather.

However, we also knew that your grandfather was reserved, and that he was not fond of (to put it more accurately, he despised) the secular youth. Therefore, it was quite likely that he would refuse to listen to us, or he would require us to reveal the sources of our information and to present him with convincing proofs of it. Since I was a leading member of the Party, and the head of the Jewish Affairs Division, I was selected to visit your grandfather accompanied by one other member, and to reveal to him what we knew.

When we arrived at Hotel Serapinsky we could think of no excuse for requesting an audience with your grandfather. We couldn't reveal the purpose of our visit in advance, and we were sure that we would not be admitted without stating our purpose. However, we learned that it was your grandfather's habit to take a walk at nine thirty every morning. Therefore, we decided to wait for him in the hallway; when he passed by, we would hand him a note stating that we had an important matter to discuss with him, and wished to make an appointment.

The next morning we arrived at the hotel at nine o'clock as we had decided. To our disappointment, we discovered that he would not be taking his walk that day, for two high officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs had an appointment to see him at eleven. We were glad to learn of this meeting, for your grandfather could make good use of our information when he spoke with them. But we still had no plan for obtaining an audience.

As we stood there bewildered, the door suddenly opened and your grandfather emerged, accompanied by the wealthy chassid N. H. They began to pace back and forth along the hotel corridor, while my colleagues and I remained in the far corner. A few moments later your grandfather happened to raise his eyes, and he noticed me. Though he had not seen me for eight years (and I don't have to tell you that my appearance had changed considerably during that time), he immediately recognized me. He inquired about my welfare, and asked whether I still remembered the chassidic discourse I had heard in Lubavitch.

I was so surprised, that I became flustered and was unable to utter a word. Seeing my confusion, my companion said, "We have an urgent matter to discuss with you, Rebbe." Your grandfather returned to his room, and instructed the chassid N. H. to invite us to enter.

I will never forget the penetrating gaze that your grandfather fixed upon us; such a glance leaves an everlasting impression. From that morning on, my companion and I became your grandfather's aides in his endeavors to quell the anti-Semitic sentiments that were then spreading among the government officials and ministers.

There is much that I could tell of your grandfather's activities during the month he spent in Petersburg; through his great influence, he succeeded in suppressing several evil decrees against the Jews.

One day, while I was visiting your grandfather, he suddenly turned to me and asked, "How long has it been since you stopped putting on tefillin ? Don't try to deny it! I don't need anyone to inform me about it. I can tell you everything you've ever done, and exactly when and where you did it."

As I sat there in amazement trying to think of some reply, he began to recite to me, incident by incident, everything that had happened to me, and the steps by which I had gradually abandoned the Jewish religion. I was struck dumb, my head began spinning, my heart palpitated, and rivers of tears ran from my eyes.

For the next several days, I was too ashamed to appear before your grandfather, but eventually I received a note from N. H. informing me that your grandfather had asked about me several times. I then went to visit him, and he assigned me several tasks of public service to perform.

The previous conversation with your grandfather had such an effect upon me that the following morning I obtained a pair of tefillin (I had left my own tefillin in my father's house when I moved out). Keeping it a secret from my family, I began to put on tefillin and daven, and I avoided eating anything but bread and tea.

During the first week I offered various excuses, saying that I was sick and unable to eat. But eventually I was forced to reveal to my wife that I had resolved not to eat non-kosher meat anymore. With great difficulty I managed to stick to a kosher diet, and to adopt a few other features of the Jewish way of life.

An Invitation from the Rebbe

Your grandfather left Petersburg and returned home to Lubavitch. After that I began to live a more religious life, but I didn't visit my father, nor was he aware of the changes in my lifestyle. In the middle of April I moved to our summer home in the Petersburg suburbs together with my wife and my oldest son.

A few days later my father came to visit me; this visit astounded me, for I had no idea why he had come. To my great surprise, Father handed me a letter written to him by your grandfather. The letter contained an invitation to the wedding of one of his sons; in the margins, he had included a note of greeting to me, indicating that I too was invited to the wedding. "Did you have to trouble yourself personally?" I asked Father. "You could have had it delivered by one of your office workers."

"When the holy Rebbe writes a letter to someone, we chassidim do not entrust it to workers; such a mission must be carried out promptly and precisely," Father replied. "I have no idea why or in reward for what good deeds you have been privileged to receive greetings from the holy Rebbe, and an invitation to join his joyous celebration. But since the Rebbe did in fact write to you, who will dare to question the king? I received the letter today, and I immediately set out to fulfill my mission. Having done so, I now bid you goodbye!" he concluded, as he prepared to return home.

It took a great deal of effort for my wife and me to convince him to remain for a few hours, so that we could have a cup of tea and take a walk in the woods together. Father told me about the forthcoming wedding of the Rebbe's son, and I in turn filled him in on the highlights of my conversations with the Rebbe when I had seen him during his visit to Petersburg the previous winter. I described the zealous and unyielding manner in which he had dared to address high government officials, while expressly demanding justice and fairness in no uncertain terms.

We had been in conversation for three hours when we suddenly heard someone calling, Shalom Aleichem! and saw the chassid Z. R. walking toward us. He greeted Father very warmly, and also greeted me with a big smile. He then recited the blessing of Shehechiyanu3 Father and I looked at him in surprise, for we could not guess why the chassid Z. R. had recited the blessing.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" asked Z. R. "When I saw you, my dear Leible, strolling lovingly with your son Y. and having heard from Avraham the butcher that for the past half year he purchases his meat from him exclusively I was overjoyed at seeing him, and so I said the blessing Shehechiyanu."

The three of us continued walking silently for a short while, until Z. R. broke the silence saying that many of the chassidim were planning to travel to Lubavitch for the wedding celebration. Finally, we returned to my home, where my wife had prepared supper. Father wanted to return to the city, but the chassid Z. R. begged him to eat something with us. He too joined us for supper; we ate with much enjoyment, and from then on, peace was restored between my father and myself....

My Last Meeting with the Maharash

On August 6 [1882] the central committee of the Young Progressives met to discuss the poor economic status of the Jews in the southern towns. It was decided that a special emissary should be sent to your grandfather to inform him of the present situation and to request his aid; this mission was assigned to me...

Your grandfather's face appeared pale as he greeted me. "I have just come from the Ohel,"4 he said. "My father the holy Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek says that the situation is not so severe, but that we must nevertheless do something."

He spent over an hour with me, outlining a program of work for me to carry out — with whom I was to meet, and what I was to discuss with each. He requested that I take brief notes, but when he saw that I was writing in Russian, he said, "That's not such a good idea! Nowadays, young folk need to be more careful, for there are many eyes following every step you take."

When he finished speaking, he wrote two letters in Russian: one addressed to Professor B., and the other to Lord Z. He asked me to check the grammar so that the recipients would not misunderstand the contents, and then he gave me the letters.

He was silent for a few moments, after which he turned to me and said, "When Moshe went up on High to receive the second set of Tablets, the Holy One said to him (Exodus 34:1): 'Engrave for yourself ….' Rashi interprets it to mean that 'The residue will belong to you.'5 As you know, the residue left over from cutting precious stones in also quite precious, and one can become very wealthy from it. By this means, the Holy One taught us a lesson in life: if a person is occupied with doing good deeds, he must be rewarded for it. Now you are occupied with public service, and you too deserve a reward."

He then began to explain to me what this means in spiritual terms. "When I said to you that I had just come from the Ohel, and that my father says that the situation is not so severe, I noticed that you laughed to yourself. Now this was not because you don't believe in spiritual matters; it is because you are so immersed in the material world that you have lost all awareness of spiritual matters."

Your grandfather continued speaking to me for a long time, and he told me many stories. In conclusion, he said, "Bear in mind always that reward exceeds punishment. Concerning Ishmael, who was an uncivilized person, the Midrash Rabbah6 says, 'If you throw a branch into the air, it will return to its place of origin.' How much more so must this be said about a chassid who is a descendant of chassidim! He must surely return to his origins.

"How long can a person stray? Fifty, or perhaps fifty-five years. Hot blood and lust also have a limit. Remember who you are, and don't forget from where you have grown. May G‑d watch over you and grant you good fortune. Tell your father that I wish to see him soon."

A Search at the Denenburg Station

When I left his presence, there remained an hour and a half until the train to Vitebsk and Petersburg was to depart from Rudnia Station. In the meantime, I would have to travel by coach from Lubavitch to Rudnia Station. I arrived at Rudnia Station ten minutes early, my limbs aching from the ride in the coach.

The ticket agent refused to sell me a ticket for the full trip to Petersburg. He claimed that there was not enough time for him to calculate the mileage from there to Petersburg and the proper fare for it, and to write the ticket. He was not accustomed to figuring such large sums, and would sell me a ticket only as far as Vitebsk. No doubt the ticket agent in Vitebsk was used to calculating larger sums, and would sell me a ticket all the way to Petersburg.

"From here in Rudnia," said the agent, "No one travels as far a Petersburg except the Lubavitcher Rebbe. And in such cases, they notify me several days in advance, and I prepare the ticket. When he arrives, I merely fill in the date, and stamp it."

When I arrived in Denenburg, I got off the train and entered the station house to get a cup of tea. There, I discovered that the police were inspecting travelers' papers, and even searching the baggage and the pockets of some of them. Stacks of papers lay piled on a table, and several officers sat there reading through them.

I remembered your grandfather's words about taking necessary precautions, and I began to think of ways to avoid the inspection or at least to find an inconspicuous corner where I could tear up your grandfather's two letters, and my notes on the activities he had assigned to me. But a moment later I made up my mind that I would behave like a veteran chassid; I remained confident that they would certainly not search me. I summoned the waiter and asked him to bring me a glass of cognac to put in my tea.

There remained two hours until the train departed for Petersburg. During that whole time they continued searching the belongings and the papers of the travelers, including those who were seated at the tables. The only ones they skipped were several high officials who were in uniform. Although the policemen passed to and fro before me innumerable times, they never approached me. I was convinced that this must be a miracle.

When I took my seat in the train, I found out that several people had been arrested; some had been sent to the Denenburg prison, while others had merely been detained pending further investigation. No one knew the reason for all this, and I did not discover it until I arrived in Petersburg, where my friends were already worried that I, too, had been arrested.

At a secret meeting, I reported to my colleagues all that your grandfather had suggested, and his agenda for improving the economic situation of our fellow Jews. When I told them about the two letters, and all that had transpired in Denenburg, they were quite amazed...

The two letters to Prof. B. and to Lord Z. opened the doors of high government officials for me. Within three weeks we had completed all our work with total and unexpected success. Everything worked out exactly as your grandfather had predicted.

"For How Long Can a Person Stray?"

When I saw my father after Rosh Hashanah, he informed me that he had traveled to Lubavitch right after Shabbos, but the Rebbe had been sick when he arrived. He had spoken with him briefly several times, but his illness grew worse from day to day. Father planned to return the day after Yom Kippur to visit him again.

The painful news about your grandfather's passing reached Petersburg on Tuesday, September 4,7 at noon, and it caused quite a storm among all segments of Jewry. Even the non-chassidic and the nonobservant Jews bemoaned the loss of this great man. We members of the Young Progressives held a meeting where we, too, lamented the passing of the great prince of the Jews.

I remained under the impact of your grandfather's spiritual influence for another year. The central committee of the Progressive Party was disbanded, and a Revolutionary Party was founded in its place. I was not as heavily involved in this party as I had been in the Progressive Party. But my sentiments lay with them, and I made financial contributions according to my means, and lent a minimal amount of personal assistance. Little by little I once again abandoned the religious way of life, until I was completely assimilated and behaved exactly like a gentile.

December 27 is my birthday; I always celebrate the day together with my friends and acquaintances, and I host a grand party in one of the fancy restaurants in Petersburg. But during the past five years since my wife passed away, my circle of friends, and my wealth, have grown. I therefore decided to begin holding these parties in one of the resort places abroad, and to invite all my friends to travel together and have a good time.

This year I decided to travel to Monte Carlo, then to Nice for a few days, and then to Paris. My friends agreed, and we visited these places. Afterwards my friends returned home, and I remained in Paris for a few days.

The night before last, I left Paris on this train to return home to Petersburg. Yesterday, as I sat in the dining car, I raised my eyes and saw your face; I was immediately reminded of the face of your grandfather, just as he appeared when I last saw him. I recalled his words, "If you throw a branch into the air, it will return to its place of origin."

This very year, I have reached the age of fifty-five. All evening and all night your grandfather's words echoed in my ears: "For how long can a person stray? Fifty, or perhaps fifty-five years. Hot blood and lust also have a limit. Remember who you are, and don't forget from where you have grown." I was unable to sleep a wink. Today I have fasted; not a morsel of food entered my mouth. I regret the lifestyle I have led until today.


Y.M. began weeping profusely, and it was with great difficulty that I managed to pacify him. Since he had been fasting, and the time for Maariv had already arrived, I repeatedly urged him to go and get something to eat. But he refused, and instead continued his story.

Y. M.'s story took three hours (with a few short recesses) to tell. Before we parted, he said, "No doubt you will be willing to lend me your tefillin tomorrow too. When I arrive home, I will get myself a pair of tefillin that very same day, and I will change my ways. I will become a faithful Jew and do as your grandfather commanded me. I will remember that I am a Jew, and will be mindful of my origins."

As he spoke these words, I observed that he was overcome with emotion. We parted in great friendship, and his story continued to affect me for a long time afterward. For almost thirty years, from 5642 to 5672 [1882-1912], the G‑dly fire of my holy grandfather's words had remained hidden and concealed within the man's heart, while he wallowed in the filth of pleasure and lust. But finally, the One Who causes all things to happen, caused events to evolve in this way. By means of a certain event, the G‑dly fire of the words of tzaddikim who live forever caused the spark to burst into a burning flame, inspiring him to return to G‑d with his whole heart.

How wondrous are the ways of Divine Providence! The Holy One, blessed be He, ordains a chain of events to support those who have fallen, and to lend a helping hand to those who have rebelled, by showing them the path they should follow.

It is written,8 "The L-rd is good and righteous, therefore He guides the wicked on the proper way." Commenting on the verse, the Midrash relates: "Why is He good? Because He is righteous. And why is He righteous? because He is good."

How numerous are Your kind acts, O L-rd! Yesterday, he fed upon a cauldron of non-kosher meat and reveled with bottles of idolatrous wine. But today he is fasting, and has returned unto G‑d. As he torments his body, he prays that from now on he will change the course of his life and live as a faithful Jew.


Petersburg, Wednesday, 12 Shvat, 5672 [January 31, 1912]

At five o'clock, Mr. Y.M. called me. I was not in my room at the time. He left a message that I return his call. I called him twice, but he was not at home.


Moscow, Thursday 13 Shvat 5672 [February 1, 1912]:

At about eleven o'clock I arrived here at Hotel Bolshoi Sibirsky, room 74. Yesterday at nine thirty in the evening I telephoned Mr. Y.M.

He was thrilled that I had complied with his request that I call him, and informed me that yesterday he acquired tefillin and a tallit as well as a Siddur, Chumash, and Tehillim, and that he was carrying out his plans for his new lifestyle. He wished to continue the conversation, but I informed him that I had to travel to Moscow on the train leaving at eleven at night, and I still had much work to do before that.


Kissingen (Germany), Tuesday 23 Menachem Av 5672 [August 6, 1912]:

Today I met Mr. Y.M. for the first time since we parted six months ago in Petersburg. We greeted each other with much joy, and made an appointment to meet again either this evening or tomorrow morning.


Kissingen, Thursday 25 Menachem Av 5672 [August 8, 1912]:

Wednesday at one o'clock the Stolliner Rebbe Shlita visited me, and at four o'clock I visited the Alexander Rebbe Shlita. Therefore, I was unable to meet with Mr. Y.M. until today. I completed my therapeutic routines early today, and from two o'clock in the afternoon until eight in the evening we strolled together, while I listened with interest to what he told me.

The essence of his story is that when he returned to Petersburg he was unable to endure the company of his friends, and he therefore decided to travel to Menton for a few days. He spent the festival of Pesach in Frankfürt am Main, and then returned to his home in Petersburg for a month. His friends noticed that some inner turnabout had taken place within him.

Later, he had moved to his summer home, and then had come here to Kissingen, arriving two weeks ago. From here he planned to return home, and to spend the month of Tishrei either in Frankfürt am Main or in Amsterdam.


Moscow, Thursday 14 Teves 5675 [December 31, 1914]:

Today, while walking along Nicholski Street, I met Mr. Y.M. He was very happy to see me, and I, in turn, was pleased to see him. He told me all about himself: his business affairs were prospering, and he was planning to move to some other country. He had not yet decided which country, but it would be a place where he would be able to lead a religious life without hindrance.


Rostov on Don, Tuesday 22 Tammuz 5678 [July 2, 1918]

Today, Mr. Z. Z. told me that he has just come from Petersburg, where the manager of Bank Sibirsky had informed him that Mr. Y.M. has settled in Amsterdam. He also managed to transfer all his wealth: cash, negotiable securities, and holdings in gold and jewels.


Berlin, Wednesday 6 Kislev 5688 [November 30, 1927]:

Today, as I sat in the hotel lobby with my son-in-law Rashag,9 a bearded gentleman approached me and greeted me with great joy. He was surprised that I failed to recognize him, but when I looked at him carefully I still had no idea who he was.

"Don't you remember when we traveled together from Paris to Petersburg?" he asked. In that instant, the entire scene replayed itself before my eyes.

"The only excuse I can offer is the same excuse Yosef's brothers had for not recognizing him,"10 I replied.

"Yes," he said, "but besides my beard, all other aspects of my life are also in keeping with what the tzaddik your grandfather demanded of me." He told me all that had happened to him, and how he had settled in Amsterdam where he now led a fully religious life without hindrance.


New York, Wednesday, 17 MarCheshvan, 5690 [November 20, 1929]:

Today I was visited by Mr. C. K. of Amsterdam. During our conversation he informed me that several of our acquaintances from Petersburg have settled there, and he spoke very highly of Mr. Y.M. He described his charitable acts and his financial support of Torah scholars.

Y.M. now leads a life of wealth and serenity on a large estate which he purchased there. He also founded a synagogue, where several minyonim ("quorums" of ten) pray daily. He himself attends the prayer services every morning, and often comes for Minchah and Maariv, and to hear the Torah lessons studied between Minchah and Maariv and following Maariv.


Warsaw, Thursday, 17 Tevet, 5694 [January 4, 1934]:

Today I was informed by Mr. M.M. that Mr. Y.M. of Amsterdam has become ill. He comes to shul only on Shabbos, but his home is still open for Torah scholars to visit. "I would never have believed that Y.M. could change so radically," said M.M. "I remember that in our home we were reluctant even to speak his name because of his wicked ways. But now, one might even confer the title tzaddik upon him."


Marienbad, Thursday, 7 Elul, 5695 [September 5, 1935]:

Today I was informed that during the past month of Sivan Mr. Y.M. passed away, following a lengthy illness. May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.