Monday, July 27, 2009

The Maggid in Lubavitch

OK, this one isn't about the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself, but rather one of his astute chassidim.

A magid once came to the town of Lubavitch. Now there were two types of maggidim in those days: those that spoke down to the people, and those that preached with love. Let's just say that the maggid in this story was no Maggid of Kohznitz. In other words, even if the trait of love did exist hidden inside of him, it was not at all evident when he "took the stage." Some became maggidim due to financial hardship, and were able to scrape together a small sum by going from town to town and giving hard mussar to the masses. This type of mussar was never popular amongst chassidim, who took a more loving approach.

The maggid in our story arrived in the town of Lubavitch, gathered together a crowd, and made his pitch in the central shul. He was rough, he was cruel. He delivered a fire and brimstone message, and spoke of the fiery flames of gehinnom. "Not one of you could look yourself in the face, honestly, without conjuring up an array of sins." Nobody was innocent. All had succumbed, time and time again, to their yetzer hara. By the time he was finished some chassidim walked out with their heads to the floor. But many were not shaken. One chasid, named Reb Shmuel Munkes, a well-known chasid of the Rebbe, went up to the maggid, and said, "you must need a place to stay for the night. Would you do me the honor of staying at my house?" He agreed.

Later that night the maggid arrived at the house. He was shown to his room, and he went to sleep. In the middle of the night he was awoken by a terrifying sound. It was a high-pitched screeching coming from the lower floor. He made his way downstairs to find Reb Shmuel Munkes holding a very long knife to a sharpner. The knife made a terrible, shrill sound when held against the wheel. The maggid, stuttering, asked, "what's, what's that?" "Oh, that's the knife," replied Reb Shmuel. "THE knife? What do you mean THE knife?" And the chosid answered, "you see, here in Lubavitch, we don't have any kivrei tzaddikim (graves of righteous people) to pray at. But when I heard you speak today!...." The maggid began to tremble and tiptoe backwards toward the door as Reb Shmuel stood up with the knife. "No, no, I'm not such a tzaddik!" cried the maggid. "I was only trying to make myself out as one," he continued. But Reb Shmuel came closer with the knife, and trapped the maggid in a corner. "Most of those things I said aren't true. I don't really believe that the people here are such reshoim (wicked sinners). I need the money, so I say these things." Reb Shmuel came even closer until the maggid exlaimed, "I'm really a rosho myself! Half the things I said about the people are really my own aveiros (sins). I'm not who you think I am! I needed the money. I'm a pathetic sinner!" And so, Reb Shmuel Munkes found out the truth about the maggid.


Anonymous said...

Is this a story that has actually circulated, and during what time period? Or is this a fractured fairy tale, the product of the feverish imagination of a blogger

Chazzan805 said...

Hey, thanks for your accusation friend.

The actual name of the chosid who brought the maggid into his home is still known. If you're really interested ask a Lubavitcher, and if you look hard enough, you'll get enough. But if you just sit under your rock you'll only become a fossil.

Anonymous said...

Hey the chossid in this story was Reb Shmuel Munkes, a well known chossid of the Alter Rebbe and there are many other stories with him in them.

The way I heard the story, he locked the maggid in his room for two days before he came in with the knife, and he did all of this in order to get the maggid to confess to doing such bad things (he knew from the beginning that the maggid was not some huge tzaddik).

Also at the end of the story, Reb Shmuel Munkes said to the maggid "So if you're such a rasho then what right do you have to go around making people feel bad for what they've done?"

Chazzan805 said...

Thanks so much. I heard the name from a Chabadnik, but just couldn't remember it.