A Din Torah by the Rebbe Rashab’s Door

Though Reb Zalman Havlin offered to pay up the Horoditch yeshiva’s debt, the Frierdiker Rebbe tricked him into a din Torah by the Rebbe Rashab. Though he was exonerated, he paid it with shadchonus gelt he received.

Reb Shlomo Zalman was born on 10 Elul 5637 (1877) in Paritch, Mohilov. His father Reb Eliezer was from among the original magidei shiurim in Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch.

Reb Shlomo Zalman first learned in Minsk, and when meeting Lubavitcher chassidim there he went along to Lubavitch where he stayed and was part of the group of bochurim with whom Tomchei Tmimim was founded. In Lubavitch, he stayed at the home of the mashpia Reb Chanoch Hendel Kugel, who was mekarev him and guided him.

In 5661 (1901), he was sent by the Rebbe Rashab to lead the yeshiva in Horoditch, which he did for ten years.

In 5672 (1911), he was sent with a group of bochurim to start the yeshiva Toras Emes in Chevron. During World War I he was forced to return to Russia, though he returned after the war and reestablished the yeshiva in Yerushalayim, which he headed until his passing on 16 Nisan 5696 (1936).


Reb Shlomo Zalman would daven for about four to five hours every day, contemplating ideas of Chassidus and singing. Having a beautiful voice, whoever would hear his davening would become uplifted and inspired to the core.

There was one bochur who came from Krakow from an assimilated family and had been to many types of groups, but he did not find his place until he chanced upon the yeshiva Toras Emes in Chevron. This bochur was once found sitting on a rock near the stream, his head between his knees and crying out loud. When asked why he was crying, he said that from when he stepped into the yeshiva he had felt very differently, especially the morning before when he had heard Reb Shlomo Zalman davening; then he had become a new person.


The Rebbeim’s trust in Reb Zalman for educating the talmidim can be seen in these letters in which they guide him in personal care for each individual student.

In a letter signed by the yeshiva secretary, Reb Zalman is told how to treat each student being sent to him in Horoditch, even having one of the students stay in his own home.  “In short, you should realize that we are giving you a class so that you should toil with them so that they become mentchen in accordance with our heart and will…”

Then comes a postscript by the Frierdiker Rebbe:

“If you can keep them near you it would be best. The main thing is to supervise every detail as I instructed through the secretary. This cannot be done passively, rather you must work with them. Notify immediately in detail the conduct of each one. I hope to Hashem that you will do as instructed.”

But when Reb Zalman became preoccupied and slacked off in hands-on supervision, the Rebbe Rashab penned this memo to him:

“To my dear friend R. Zalman [Havlin] the mashgiach,

“You have ascended in the high and lofty levels, but you are not watching what is happening below. The branch in Horoditch was founded for those who require special supervision and attention. And this is how it was when you put your heart and mind to it. Now this has discontinued, and the deficit is very noticeable. It is crucial to correct this and to maintain the true intent.”


Before leaving for Chevron, Reb Shlomo Zalman realized that he had a large debt from the years the yeshiva operated in Horoditch. It was not clear who was responsible to pay: either the general Tomchei Tmimim which was managed by the Frierdiker Rebbe or Reb Shlomo Zalman himself. The Frierdiker Rebbe suggested going to a din Torah before the Rebbe Rashab, which Reb Shlomo Zalman refused and insisted to pay instead.

A few days later, the Frierdiker Rebbe called Reb Shlomo Zalman to near the Rebbe Rashab’s room. As they stood by the door, the Frierdiker Rebbe opened it and asked the Rebbe Rashab for a din Torah. Reb Shlomo Zalman was surprised and remained silent. The Rebbe Rashab listened to the details and declared that Reb Shlomo Zalman does not have to pay.

A short while later, Reb Shlomo Zalman suggested a shiduch for a bochur which came to fruition and he received a nice sum of shadchonus gelt. Although he had won the din Torah, he nevertheless took the money and paid up the debt.

For sources, visit TheWeeklyFarbrengen.com

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