By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Photo: Chabad of Texas Archives
In the early 1960s, the Tennenhaus family moved from Bathurst, New Brunswick, to Montreal, where the father David Tennenhaus became the director of secular studies at the Beth Jacob Girl’s School.
In Montreal, Mr. Tennenhaus met Reb Peretz Mochkin, a devout Chabad chassid who had emigrated from the Soviet Union with the help of Rabbi Leib Kramer, director of the city’s Chabad yeshiva.
Reb Peretz made a meager earning from selling wine that he made in his basement. Despite this, he had a zest for life and seldom complained. Still, the chassid’s situation bothered Mr. Tennenhaus, and during a private audience with the Rebbe in 1961, he brought it up.
“Reb Peretz Mochkin goes with a torn kapote [frock coat], and before he has a private audience with the Rebbe, he has to borrow a nice one, while Marilyn Monroe makes five million dollars a year?” Mr. Tennenhaus said, in reference to a famous actress.
What had become of G-d’s promise, he asked the Rebbe, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine?” (Chagai 2:8) How could G-d allow this righteous man to live in poverty?
The Rebbe responded that Reb Peretz had no interest in being rich. “I doubt if he even realizes that he has a torn kapote. Your dilemma does not even bother him.”
While Reb Peretz was utterly content with his lot, the Rebbe said, “the actress you mentioned, with all of her wealth, is unhappy. She is unhappy with everything that she has.”
A few months later, it became known just how unhappy that actress was. She committed suicide on August 5, 1962. She was 36 years old.
Reb Peretz went on to become the renowned Mashpia of the Chabad community in Montreal and raised a beautiful and large Chassidic family. He passed away on the 21st of Teves 5742 at the age of 89.