A tzaddik and his protégé were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the two righteous men were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.
The tzaddik carried the woman in his arms and forded the river to the other bank. The protégé was very upset, but said nothing.
They both were walking, and the rebbe noticed that his junior was suddenly silent. So he enquired “Nu, what’s the matter? You seem very upset.”
The tzaddik’s companion replied, “As holy men, we are not permitted women, other than our wives; how could you then carry that woman in your arms?”
The tzaddik replied, “I put the girl down on the river bank–”
“No, you didn’t!” the younger man cried.
The old rebbe looked down at the young woman cradled in his arms as she caressed his face lovingly.
“All right,” he said wearily. “So I didn’t put her down….”