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Fire and Ice

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At a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) with his chassidim, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866), told the following story:

“Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov[2] loved light, so his disciples made sure to light many candles whenever they expected their Rebbe. On one occasion, they had but a single candle and, despite their efforts, could not find any more. Knowing how much their master loved light, they were bitterly disappointed by their inability to provide the illumination he desired.

“When the Baal Shem Tov entered the room, he told his disciples to go outside and collect the icicles that hung from the roof. He then instructed them to arrange the ice ‘candles’ about the room and light them. The ice burned like wax, flooding the room with light.”

Rabbi Menachem Mendel fell silent. Then, with a note of yearning in his voice, he said: “For the Baal Shem Tov’s Chassidim, ice burned and yielded light. Today’s Chassidim sit in well-heated and well-lighted rooms, and yet it is cold and dark.”[3]

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber


[2]. 1698-1760, founder of the Chassidic movement.

[3]. Sefer HaSichot Kayitz 5700, p. 174.

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