Stories of Tzadikim / 15 The Race Horse

Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky


A gut voch everybody. I’ll tell you a maaseh. Nowadays if kids want to get in trouble there’s plenty of opportunities unfortunately. But if you go back a few hundred years in the shtetlich of Europe you have to go find trouble it won’t find you as much. If you have a teenager 200 years ago in the town of Lubavitch, if he’s looking for trouble what can he possibly do? 

There’s a story of a kid like that who is working and saves some of his money . He’s not in yeshuva, he’s barely frum at this point. He saves up money to buy a race-horse. It’s the equivalent of a motorcycle today. So what does this kid do? He spends his afternoons and nights racing kozaks, racing goyim with his race-horse. And he’s pretty good. But everyone in the city is looking at this kid as a nebuch, it’s a shame on his whole family. The kid feels the eyes of the city looking at him and judging him and he’s being pushed further and further away because of that. 

There was one Shabbos morning where this kid was feeling extra rebellious and he happened to take a ride outside the shul on shabbos. The halacha is that you’re not allowed to ride a horse on Shabbos and he’s doing it just to spite the people.In a few minutes everyone is going to come out of shul including the Rebbe who at the time was the Tzemach Tzedek. When everyone sees this kid trodding up and down on the street in front of the shul people are getting angry saying what are you doing! You’re going to make the Rebbe see chilul Shabbos. 

Finally the Tzemach Tzedek comes out and sees the kid. He knows what's going on with him and comes directly to him. Let's call this kid Moishy. He immediately gets defensive and assumed to be upset by this conversation. The Tzemach Tzedek goes “That’s such a beautiful horse, where did you get it?” Moishy answers I saved up some money and I bought it. “Wow what a gevaldig horse. It’s probably fast right?” asks the Tzemach Tzedek. By now Moishy is proud and answers Yes it’s very fast! “And do you race the kozaks with it, do you win?” Moishy answers yes, it’s great. I win all the time. It's a very good horse! “Gevaldik I’m so happy you win. 

The Tzemach tzedek adds but i’m just nervous about one thing. If the horse is so fast and it’s used to racing, I’m afraid what’s going to happen if you’re trodding down the street and the horse thinks it’s a race. It could use its speed to get lost and it’ll travel very quickly. If you look for it you can get lost in the woods very quickly. Moishy says it’s not really concerning, the horses don’t act like that they know i’m in control. The Rebbe answers but it still could happen, what’s going to be if it does? Moishy says you know what it’s actually a good point I guess it could happen. 

The Rebbe explains but you know what? I’m not really that worried. Because the same speed that the horse has to get so lost so quickly, the horse could use that same speed to find his way back so quickly. 

There’s no such thing as a character trait in a yid that’s bad. It’s just a matter of harnessing it the right way. If we have a part of ourselves that’s a little wild, untamed or out of control that got a jew lost very quickly. That same exact energy can get a jew to become an even greater person back on the path in a stronger way quickly as well. 

Hashem should bless each and every one of us to be able harness our kochos in the right way in the same zerizus and hislahavus that sometimes the yetzer hara uses. That fire is not in the yetzer hara’s jurisdiction; it's for the neshama’s sake. To use that fire for excitement for avodas hashem and to grow. 

It should be a mazaldik voch, a Geuladik Voch, a simchadik voch, Amen.


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