The Railroad Magnate Who Was the Rebbe’s Ambassador

A wealthy chossid who lived in the capital city of Petersburg, R. Shmuel Michel Treinin was a supporter and activist for the Rebbe Rashab. But when he proudly showed the Rebbe his huge factory, the Rebbe reminded him whose davening brought it.

Reb Shmuel Michel Treinin was a chossid of the Rebbe Maharash and the Rebbe Rashab. He lived in Petersburg and was very rich. He was very involved in communal matters on behalf of the Yidden in Russia and assisted the Rebbe Rashab and the Frierdiker Rebbe in this realm. He was a smart man with strong beliefs, and he was proud of being a chossid, even when among unreligious, well-to-do people. If someone commented negatively about Yidden, he knew how to respond.


Once when visiting the Rebbe Rashab in Lubavitch, the Rebbe told him to give ten thousand rubles for communal matters. Reb Shmuel Michel, however, was hesitant and refrained from doing so.

Sometime later, he was riding in his carriage in the streets of Petersburg, when suddenly the Czar’s carriage came towards them. His driver, not knowing who it was, did not move aside, causing disrespect to the Czar. Reb Shmuel Michel was fined ten thousand rubles. He bemoaned, “These are the ten-thousand ruble I refrained from giving to the Rebbe…”


Reb Shmuel Michel had the rights to building the tracks for the trains near Petersburg. He had a huge factory for this task with thousands of employees. Once when the Rebbe Rashab visited Petersburg, Reb Shmuel Michel asked him to come tour his factory. The Rebbe agreed and visited the whole facility with all its wings and sections, inquiring about every detail.

At the end when the Rebbe was ready to leave, Reb Shmuel Michel asked, “Rebbe, what do you think about the factory?” The Rebbe responded, “How do you think you got all this? It’s because in Lubavitch during the davening on Rosh Hashana you are thought about.”


R’ Shmuel Michel was a very wealthy chossid and was very organized and put together by nature. He had dealings with numerous important government officials, and was always dressed immaculately.

Once, the celebrated chossid R’ Michoel der Alter came to Petersburg for the purpose of getting a bochur freed from the draft. He came to R’ Shmuel Michel for assistance, and R’ Shmuel Michel was accompanying him to visit some important officers who would perhaps be able to help their cause.

R’ Michoel went around the streets of Petersburg the same way that he did in Lubavitch; he didn’t pay any special attention to his attire. Furthermore, at the time of the story R’ Michoel was apparently before davening, and wasn’t even buttoned up.

R’ Shmuel Michel was walking alongside R’ Michoel in the street, and feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Here he was, the respected businessman who everyone knew and held in such high esteem, and he was being escorted by what looked like a tramp! Of course he wouldn’t say anything to R’ Michoel, who he was in awe of, but every time one of his acquaintances passed by them he felt like running away and hiding.

Finally, he could not contain himself, and a long sigh burst out of his mouth. Startled, R’ Michoel asked him if everything was alright. R’ Shmuel Michel tried very respectfully to suggest to R’ Michoel that at least when walking in the streets of Petersburg he could make himself more presentable.

When R’ Michoel heard that this was what was troubling his colleague, he turned to him reproachfully and exclaimed:

Gevald, R’ Shmuel Michel, in vos ihr ligt?!!” Gevald, R’ Shmuel Michel, is this what your mind is on?!

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