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Wagons and Souls

And G-d happened upon Bil'am… (23:4)

The hallmark of evil and unholiness is an attitude of 'it just happened.' Nothing is coincidental to the Jew; every event is purposeful and significant.

In the words of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov: "From everything that a Jew sees or hears, he is to derive a lesson in his service of G-d."

- chassidic saying

Rabbi Leib, the 'Zeideh' of Shpoli, was blessed with a brilliant mind, a burning desire to serve his Creator, and a heart suffused with love for his fellow Jew. Yet he shunned the role of leader and chassidic master, preferring to conceal these qualities and find his place as one among the many disciples of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch.

Once when Rabbi Leib was making his way on foot to Mezeritch, he came upon a heavily laden wagon that had become stuck in the mud. The wagon driver called out to him for assistance, but Rabbi Leib said: "I'm sorry, I wish I could help you. But I am not capable of lifting such a heavy load."

"You are capable, you are capable" responded the wagon driver. "You just don't want to!"

Indeed, the task proved far more doable than Rabbi Leib had assumed. No sooner did he apply his hand to the wagon driver's efforts than the wagon rolled out of the mudhole and on to the road.

For the rest of his journey to Mezeritch Rabbi Leib knew no rest. He felt that the wagon driver's words must be a message from above, and that they came to address his inner reluctance to assume the role which had been ordained for him. When he arrived in Mezeritch, Rabbi DovBer said to him: "My master, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, once said to me concerning you, that 'he can drag a burdened soul out of its spiritual mud.' You can and you must be a Rebbe."

 

 


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