Thursday, February 01, 2007

Daily Spiritual Cleansing

(Illustration by Solomon Yudovin)

Excerpt from The Trail to Tranquility:

Once, the renowned Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, visited one of his prize pupils, the holy Rebbe Michal of Zlatchov. As they stood on the steps of the synagogue, a peasant walked past and hurled a string of insults at Rebbe Michal. 'Who was that?' asked the Baal Shem Tov.

Rebbe Michal answered, 'He walks past the synagogue every day and 'greets' me in such a manner, then disappears.'

The Baal Shem Tov smiled, 'How lucky you are, Michal, to have a daily spiritual cleansing like that!"

6 Comments:

At February 1, 2007 at 4:04:00 PM EST, Blogger Alice said...

If only my skin could be so thick!

 
At February 2, 2007 at 12:28:00 AM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

I think I saw such mayses about Reb Refoel miBershad zy"o, that when he felt that someone gives him too much kovoyd he would run to the market and act strange, so people will scorn and mock him, and afterwards he would say that he needed his portion of bizoyoyn.

 
At February 2, 2007 at 11:40:00 AM EST, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

A Yid: that description of Rebbe Raphael of Bershad sounds typical of him. He had great humility and worked hard to eradicate all traces of vanity and pride. He did not dress in rabbinical clothes; his household belongings were simple; he shopped in the marketplace for his family's needs; and he sat in the back row in shul. He said: "Some people pursue acclaim and thrive on being honored. Little do they realize that in order to receive honor, you must actually lower yourself. One can only pour into a container when it is held lower."

It's interesting to hear that he actually went so far as to seek disgrace and scorn!

 
At February 3, 2007 at 8:49:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

I looked it up. That story can be found in new Imrey Pinchos (part 2 - Likutey Imrey Pinchos, Shaar haSipurim 178).

Just to note - the character of Reb Refoel zy"o and his approach (pashtus, tmimus and bitul, his refusal to use rabonish clothing etc.) to everyday life reminds me Reb Noson ztz"l pretty much. (Amazigly, he even had opposition from the same circle as Reb Noson did!) There are also interesting parallels between the Rebe zy"o and Reb Pinchos zy"o.

 
At February 4, 2007 at 12:16:00 PM EST, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

A Yid: can you go into more details about the parallels to Reb Noson?

One thing that confuses me a bit: I understand that, in general, Chassidism does not endorse asceticism/self-deprivation, although daily life is well regulated. Mankind is supposed to be joyful at times of celebration; we are supposed to enjoy the pleasure of a good meal. But it seems that Rebbe Raphael, in his endeavor to be humble and modest, may have lived a fairly ascetic life. Is that right? Can you comment on this?

 
At February 11, 2007 at 8:20:00 PM EST, Blogger redsneakz said...

Shoshana,
Rebbe Raphael is a kind of unique case. He was a chossid of Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz, and their school was not in the mainstream of Chasidic thought, but was an important stream nonetheless.

That said, someone who seeks to drive down pride through putting himself in a place where he can be ridiculed is not necessarily an ascetic - the Rebbe Reb Zishe being the prime example of this.

 

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