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In the year 1834, a seventh son was born to the great Saint and Mystic, the Tzemach Tzedek. On the morning of the circumcision guests assembled. But the Rebbe did not make an appearance. Just as the Chassidim began to think the brit might be postponed, the Rebbe sent them the message that indeed the brit would G-d willing be held that day.
Much of the day passed. It was only in the late afternoon that the Rebbe emerged from his room and the brit began.
No-one understood the reason for this strange behavior. The Chassidim had only two clues. The first was the Rebbe’s words, “Oy! The Polotzk burial society…” And the second was the baby’s name – Shmuel.
At the festive meal that followed the brit, the baby’s grown-up brother Yehuda Leib asked his father after whom he had been named. There was no Shmuel in their family…Was it perhaps the prophet Shmuel?
“The baby is named after a water-carrier from Polotzk,” said his father.
Indeed, on that ninth day of the month of Iyar, two townspeople had passed away in Polotzk. One was a wealthy businessman and the other a simple water-carrier. The burial society attended to the influential member of their community and only late in the afternoon did they get to taking care of Shmuel the water-carrier’s burial.
The Zohar instructs us not to name a child after someone who has not yet been buried. So the Rebbe had delayed the brit in order to name his youngest child – the one who would ultimately succeed him – after a water-carrier from Polotzk.