In the Middle of the Night, They Heard Knocking on the Door

It was late one blustery Friday night under Communism when knocking was heard on the door of a chossid’s home in Nevel. Terrified, he opened the door, to find the town’s shochet Reb Chaim Dovid Lein looking for candlelight by which to learn a maamar.

Reb Chaim Dovid Lein, was the middle son of Reb Moshe Leib Lein, and a grandson of the famous chossid of the Alter Rebbe, Reb Peretz Chein. He was born around the year 5608 (1848).

After his chasuna, he was a yoshev by the Rebbe Maharash in Lubavitch, as was the custom in those days. Eventually, he took on the job of shochet and bodek in the city of Nevel, a task he continued to hold even in his old age, as he had very steady hands.

As can be seen in the letters written to him, the Frierdiker Rebbe held him in very high esteem. He passed away in Nevel in the year 5699 (1939).


Reb Chaim Dovid once related two instructions he had personally received from the Rebbe Maharash:

(1) To understand a maamar Chassidus one must learn it at least three times. To apply it in avoda, one must learn the maamar at least thirty times.

(2) A shochet’s mind must be utterly clear and focused. Therefore, since he shechted on Fridays, he must forgo the custom of chassidim to remain awake on Thursday night, making it up instead on motzaei Shabbos. To further strengthen his mind’s clarity, he should add three hours of sleep on Friday and Sunday nights.


Late one winter Friday night amidst a snowstorm, knocking was heard on the door of a chossid’s home in Nevel. This was during the time when the NKVD would often make searches or arrests during the night, so the chossid opened the door with a pounding heart. He relaxed when he saw Reb Chaim Dovid standing in front of him in the cold, begging to come in.

Reb Chaim Dovid explained, “I was in middle of learning a maamar of the Rebbe Maharash when the candle went out and I could not continue. I walked outside and saw the light was still burning in your home, so please let me finish the maamar here.”


In 5695, then 87-year-old, Reb Chaim Dovid wrote a letter to the Frierdiker Rebbe suggesting that all Anash recite the entire Tehillim before davening every Shabbos.

When the Frierdiker Rebbe received Reb Chaim Dovid’s suggestion, he replied that it was a good one, although it should not be done every Shabbos, but specifically on Shabbos Mevarchim.

In a letter written in honor of Yud Beis Tamuz, the Frierdiker Rebbe publicly acknowledged his input:

“I am very pleased to hear of the public recital of Tehillim on every Shabbos Mevarchim, as suggested to me by my colleague and friend, Reb Chaim Dovid shu”b [shochet ubodek].”

The Frierdiker Rebbe’s secretary, Reb Chatche Feigin, made copies of the letter and sent it to the Chassidim in the Soviet Union, along with a letter about the importance of farbrengens and with a request that Chassidim bless the Rebbe Rayatz – whose health had been deteriorating – during those farbrengens.

Approximately one month later, the Frierdiker Rebbe sent out an official letter to all Anash, publicizing the custom, which remains strong until this day.

For sources, visit

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  1. It would be helpful if, for those of us not of the Jewish faith, if in future articles you would explain some of these terms, like mammary, etc

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