The Violin Player Who Was Healed by the Alter Rebbe

An exceptional violin player, R’ Shlomo Chashniker’s nigunim could melt his listeners’ hearts. Playing at the Zhlobiner Chassuna, R’ Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev showed him his heart and R’ Shlomo never had another machshava zara during davening.

R. Shlomo of Chashnik was born in Smilian, to his father R. Yisrael Yafeh of Dubravna, an early chossid of the Alter Rebbe. R. Shlomo was a shochet in Chashnik, and like his father was a baal menagen by the Alter Rebbe. After the Alter Rebbe’s passing, he became a chossid of R. Aharon of Strashele.


As a young child of six years old, R. Shlomo suddenly became blind, and the doctors said that it was incurable. (It was during this time period that he learned to play music.)

When R. Yisrael Yafeh heard about a miracle worker in Liozna, he traveled there with his son. The Alter Rebbe opened a Zohar and instructed the boy to read, but the boy said that he could not see it. The Alter Rebbe closed the sefer and opened it again. When he asked the boy to read, he said that it was blurry. The third time the Alter Rebbe opened the Zohar, the boy was able to see clearly.

The Alter Rebbe then instructed him to learn shechita and he sent him to serve as a shochet in the town of Chashnik.


R. Shlomo was a talented violin player, and his tunes would melt the hearts of his listeners. At the chassunah in Zhlobin between the grandchildren of the Alter Rebbe and R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, R. Shlomo played his violin as the two tzaddikim danced together.

On that occasion, R. Levi Yitzchok exposed his chest and told R. Shlomo, “Gaze at my heart and you won’t have machashavos zaros during davening.”

R. Shlomo later testified that since that time, he indeed never had any foreign thoughts when he davened.


When his end became near, R. Shlomo called for the chevra Kadisha and told them that he would die that day and that a minyan should be present. When they asked him how he knew that with certainty, he explained:

“Twenty years ago, the Malach Hamaves came to take me, but I screamed at him, ‘ How dare you come to me when the Alter Rebbe told me to be in Chashnik for such a number of years and that time isn’t up yet!’ I then took a block of wood and hit him on the shoulder, and he became a hunchback.

“Today, that hunchback returned, and I have nothing to tell him. I therefore know that today is my last day.”

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