“I Won’t Take Any Money From You”

Renowned for his hospitality and generosity, R. Mordechai Elinson of Kharkov hosted many regularly. Under Communism, he ran a cheder and ensured that the melamdim and the learning was al taharas hakodesh.

R. Mordechai Elinson was born in c. 5620 and was a chossid of the Rebbe Maharash, Rebbe Rashab, and the Frierdiker Rebbe. He lived in Kharkov, where he was a successful businessman, owning both a vinegar and an ink factory. He was renowned for his hospitality and generosity and was a leading activist on behalf of Yiddishkeit in Kharkov.

R. Mordechai was the director of a cheder which he continued to maintain with mesiras nefesh even under communist rule. He supported the cheder financially and guarded it spiritually, ensuring that the melamdim were yerei Shomayim and all the learning was al taharas hakodesh. He passed away c. 5700.


R. Mordechai was an incredible machnis orach, and his home was always full of guests. On Shabbos morning those who rose early to say Tehillim would come to his home for coffee before davening, and for the Shabbos meal he would host no less than ten people, local paupers and well-to-do travelers, at his table.

On his way home from a successful business trip, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu Volosov stayed in Kharkov for Shabbos. When he inquired about a reliably kosher inn, R. Mordechai invited him to his home.

At the house, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu found a Shabbos table lavishly set with food and drink and many people, who he presumed were all paying for their stay and meals. Feeling generous, he asked R. Mordechai during the meal to serve extra liquor to the guests on his account. He repeated his request the following day, and overall behaved like a guest in a hotel.

After Shabbos, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu asked his host for a bill. R. Mordechai replied in surprise, “Are you going to pay me for all my guests? I won’t take money for them or for you. I won’t take money for the liquor you requested either, since your will is my will!”


Once, after drawing money from the bank, R. Mordechai noticed that he was overpaid 10,000 rubles. He tried telling the clerk, but he insisted that they never make mistakes. When R. Mordechai persisted, the clerk recalculated and discovered that R. Mordechai was correct. This story was reported in the newspapers and caused a great kiddush Hashem.


While on a trip to Yalta, the Rebbe Rashab once spent some time in Kharkov, and a large feast was held in his honor. During the feast, the Rebbe displayed special affection for R. Mordechai, and at one point held onto R. Mordechai’s beard while gazing at him with love.

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