The Rebbe And The ‘Thief’

The Rebbe And The ‘Thief’

By Rabbi Dovid Hoffman

A chasid who grew up in Montreal, Quebec, and was a frequent visitor to the home of the Tosher Rebbe, R’ Meshulem Feish Lowy zt”l, arrived one day in the small village of Tosh with an urgent appointment to speak with the holy Rebbe. When he entered the inner sanctum, he immediately burst into tears and needed an extra minute to come to himself.

The Tosher Rebbe gently asked what was wrong. The chasid related that he had come to say goodbye to the Rebbe; he had taken a job in a distant city and would be leaving with his young wife in the next few days. The Rebbe looked at him with surprise and told him he did not think a chasid of his caliber belonged in a faraway city like that. The young man explained that he really had no choice. He had been in Europe on business and had amassed enough money to buy an apartment in Montreal, where he had planned to settle down and raise his family. Unfortunately, when he was in Antwerp, someone had stolen his valise that contained all his money and he was left penniless – barely able to get back to Canada. Although he wouldn’t have normally moved so far away from his community and his Rebbe, he took the only job he was offered that would allow him to earn a parnasah for himself and his family. He looked at his Rebbe, his eyes brimming with tears.

R’ Meshulem held the man’s hand for a few extra seconds before shaking his head. “No, I do not think it is worth ruining the Yiddishkeit of your household for this job. I believe you should stay in Montreal and things will get better.”

The chasid left the Rebbe’s room but he was conflicted. On the one hand, the Rebbe was telling him to stay in Montreal – that he was risking his family’s Yiddishkeit by moving so far away. On the other hand, nothing short of a miracle could help him at this point, as he literally did not have a viable source of income that would allow him to remain in Montreal.

The following morning, the chasid went to daven in the Tosher beis midrash, after which he planned on returning to his hovel in Montreal. Deep in thought while he was wrapping up his t’filin, he didn’t notice a stranger enter the beis midrash and walk over to him, staring at his face with unusual focus and intensity. Suddenly, the man tapped him on the shoulder and said with an obvious European accent, “Reb Yid, were you recently in Belgium, in Antwerp?”

The stranger’s face went pale and a look of agony came over him.
“I know who you are”

The surprised chasid scrutinized the man’s face but did not recognize him at all. “Yes, I was there a few weeks ago.”

The stranger’s face went pale and a look of agony came over him. “I know who you are,” he said in a quiet voice full of contrition. “When you were in Antwerp, I saw you had a suitcase full of cash and I was overcome by my yetzer hara. I was in a tight bind and needed money fast. When you weren’t looking, I grabbed your bag and stole the cash. Although it helped me temporarily, I have been tortured by the notion that I caused another Jew grief and anguish. I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow you must have felt when you realized your money was gone. Here is the money – down to the last penny. I owe you a huge apology and hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.” With that, the stranger pulled out a plastic bag filled with tightly bound wads of cash. With another murmured apology, the stranger turned and ran out of the beis midrash before the chasid could even comprehend what had just happened.

He counted the money and it was accurate down to the last cent. With joy and excitement, the chasid ran back to the Tosher Rebbe to tell him that his blessing had come true! The Rebbe smiled in obvious enjoyment and blessed the chasid with continued success in his family life and business endeavors – and once again told him to settle down in Montreal.

The chasid followed his Rebbe’s orders and purchased an apartment in the city. Heaven blessed him. His family grew, and he raised a beautiful mishpachah built on solid foundations of Torah and chasidus, and he never failed to tell over the “miracle” of the Tosher Rebbe’s blessing that had come through just when he needed it most!

Many years later, this chasid bumped into the “thief,” whom he recognized immediately. He told him that he wished to thank him – because of him he stayed in Montreal and raised a wonderful family. The man looked at him and said, “Don’t thank me, thank the Tosher Rebbe. I was never even in Antwerp. The Rebbe called me and told me to give you the money with this story. He handed me the bag filled with cash and I gave it to you. The Tosher Rebbe deserves all the thanks!”

Rabbi Dovid Hoffman is the author of the popular “Torah Tavlin” book series, filled with stories, wit and hundreds of divrei Torah, including the brand new “Torah Tavlin Yamim Noraim” in stores everywhere. You’ll love this popular series. Also look for his book, “Heroes of Spirit,” containing one hundred fascinating stories on the Holocaust. They are fantastic gifts, available in all Judaica bookstores and online at To receive Rabbi Hoffman’s weekly “Torah Tavlin” sheet on the parsha, e-mail