Part Seven – Rabbi Yosef goes to Lubavitch

On Shabbat an officer of the Count’s court arrived in a coach hitched to two stallions. He bore a letter from the young prince stating that since Shlomo Leib is still weak, his advice was that he travel to Vitebsk, the regional capital, and seek the professional counsel of the physicians there. The letter also stated that he should await the prince who would be arriving there at the end of the week. Shlomo Leib asked Rabbi Yosef to accompany him to Vitebsk, but Rabbi Yosef refused. He returned home to Beshenkovich and Shlomo Leib went to Vitebsk.

When Rabbi Yosef returned home he found that many of the elder Chasidim were preparing to go on a pilgrimage to Lubavitch to visit the Holy Rebbe, our master, teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Dov Ber. They were planning on leaving in a week. Rabbi Yosef was aroused with the desire to join them. He rented his horse and wagon to another teamster until his return from Lubavitch and joined the pilgrimage.

Approximately forty Chasidim left Beshenkovich together and in each town and settlement that they passed, more people joined them, so that by the time they reached Vitebsk there already were about one hundred and eighty pilgrims. There they met other groups of people preparing to set off for Lubavitch.

Rabbi Yosef told his son Abba Zelig, “More than two thousand guests arrived in Lubavitch that year for the holiday of Shavuot. It is impossible to describe our great joy when we saw that with HaShem’s help, blessed be He, our master, teacher and rabbi, the Alter Rebbe left us a Rebbe that would guide us in the paths of life with true life.”

“One day”, Rabbi Yosef told his son Abba Zelig, “To my great surprise I met Shlomo Leib Gametzky, the patient from the inn, walking on the street in Lubavitch with a Young Chasid. He immediately recognized me and was extremely happy to see me. He told me everything that happened to him from the time of that incident until then. The prince had come to Vitebsk and told him that for business reasons he wanted to send him to the Ukraine – his actual reason was to send him away so that he would not find out about his wife and son’s death.”

“I decided to tell the prince that I knew what had happened to my wife and son, and that I could not bear to return to the place where it happened and would he please release me from my obligations to him. At first he would not hear of it, but after a few days he told me that he knows that in the nearby town of Lubavitch lives a holy man of G-d, a great rabbi in Israel. ‘Go to him’, he said, ‘and do whatever he tells you to do.’”

Our holy master, teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Mittler Rebbe, arranged a regimen of rectification for Rabbi Shlomo, who became a complete Baal Teshuva – returnee. He commanded him to leave the prince and return home to his wife and children.

That very year a tract on Teshuva was published in the Yiddish language by our holy master, teacher and rabbi. This tract is a regimen of how a Baal Teshuvah should conduct himself.

“My father remained in Lubavitch for two months that year” Abba Zelig related. “When he entered for Yechidus (private audience) with our holy master, teacher and rabbi, the Rebbe appointed him to fill the post of Nachum the elder in directing the Chasidic congregation on Market street.

He said to him; “My father came to me and said that Yosef Beshenkovitcher has fulfilled the intention.” And he concluded, “For the sake of the good of an individual my father made a scholar into a teamster and I say that for the sake of the public good it is worthwhile to make a teamster into a Chasidic mentor who directs the Chasidic congregation on Market street in Beskenkovitch.

“When my father came home from Lubavitch he sold the horse and wagon. He was done with being a teamster and became a Chasidic mentor. Until old age he would walk on foot to Lubavitch. When his strength finally failed him in his advanced years and he could no longer walk there, he refused to ride in the wagon. He said, ‘To Jerusalem one must walk.’ When the Chasidim of Bashenkovitch would come to Lubavitch, our holy master, teach and rabbi would ask, ‘So how goes it with our venerable Rabbi Yosef the Chasidic mentor?’”

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