Triumph in battling for traditional Judaism
Although at first the side supporting my husband was the smaller one, nevertheless, as always happened, he succeeded in prevailing. Indeed, it took time and energy, because he always battled for issues of importance from a religious viewpoint, whereas most of the community consisted of maskilim and non-religious Jews.
A certain member of the Yekatrinoslav community, a doctor, once reflected that “Schneerson is a most interesting person, but he is exactingly meticulous—he insists on fulfilling every single word stated in the Shulc han Oruch. When we read through the protocols of community meetings, three quarters of them consist of Schneerson’s proposals—which are of no concern to the rest of us at all. Yet he manages to get all these proposals incorporated into our community’s social life.”
The false witness
I don’t know whether it was because my husband sought it out, or whether that was his destiny, but there was always some reason or other to disturb his tranquility.
There was once a case with a shochet who had slaughtered with a defective knife. He was an elderly man who had a large family, who were prominent members of the community. Schneerson removed this overhasty shochet from his post for several months.
This happened right at the beginning of my husband’s tenure as Rav. There was a non-Chasidic Rav in the city, who had served for over 30 years. He had great authority in the community and insisted that, without his consent, nothing should be done in the city’s religious life. He greatly disliked Chasidim, and was usually very upset at any interference with his leadership.
Testimony was heard concerning the case. The older Rav brought a witness who said he was passing through the city, but stated that he knew the shochet very well. He claimed to have been present, by chance, when the shochet slaughtered on that day, and swore to that effect [contradicting my husband’s charge against him].
It’s most unpleasant for me to write the following but it’s a fact. I remember how upsetting it was to my husband whenever he related this episode.
The witness, who had a red beard, stood up, as required by Torah law, to give his testimony. As soon as the man started speaking, Leivik [my husband] immediately recognized, from his voice and manner of speech, that he was no traveler passing through the city but was, in fact, one of the official supervisors of the shochetim, who was close to the older Rav. Black-bearded, he had disguised himself by dying it red and by wearing dark glasses—which he never wore otherwise.
My husband immediately called out aloud, “It’s David the supervisor! What a liar you are! Why are you claiming to be a traveler passing through?”
Everyone present in the room smiled, realizing my husband’s words were correct, and that the entire testimony had been fabricated, with the agreement of the older Rav or even at his direction.
Although my husband had done everything in this case in full accordance with the Shulchan Oruch, it affected his health, causing him to lie sick in bed for two weeks.
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