Advice For My Friend
In a posting yesterday on Circus Tent, my friend Chabakuk Elisha asked for advice on how to answer a question his son asked him about the story behind Akdamus. After thinking about what he wrote, here is my response:
As a Lubavitcher chassid, you believe that the reason that you learn Chitas every day is because when the Tzemach Tzedek visited the grave of his mother (Rebbetzin Devorah Leah) in 1843, he received a message from her that she had gained entry into the heavenly palace of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov then gave the instruction to establish the practice of learning Chitas on a daily basis. To the non-Lubavitcher this story may sound as contrived as the story that you have problems with. It is all a matter of perspective.
If you truly don't believe the story behind Akdamus, you should know that our tradition contains plenty of other "fantastic" stories, from the ten plagues in Egypt to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the cave, that many people deem as questionable and that require a person to accept with a simple faith. The story behind Akdamus thus does not strike me as being extraordinary in this regard.
Perhaps you could answer your son by saying that while you have trouble accepting this story literally at the present time, this does not invalidate the story in any way. Explain to him that many great tzaddikim extolled the kedusha of Akdamus and that you are still struggling to come to grips with it.
In the end, your son will respect your honesty and gain an appreciation for the fact that his Tatty, like everyone else, struggles with matters of emuna.
I hope you accept these words as words of friendship and not those of derision or condescension.
A Simple Jew