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Supernal Priorities

The Kohen shall dissolve [the writing] in the bitter waters (5:23)

G-d says: Let my name be erased in the water, if only to bring peace between man and wife.

- Sifri

"…and he skips over me with love (Song of Songs 2:4)" - Great is G-d's love for Israel; He lovingly tolerates the schoolchildren, who trample over the pages of the holy writings…

- Midrash

A chassid once wrote to the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson:

At the synagogue in which I pray, there are individuals who are completely out of line with the spirit of chassidism. I have therefore stopped my practice of reviewing discourses of chassidic teaching there. For such people, must I squander the sacred teachings of chassidism to no purpose…?!

The Rebbe replied in a letter dated Iyar 2 5695 [May 5th 1935]:

Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz was among the most distinguished of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov's disciples and a close companion of his successor, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch. Rabbi Pinchas was of the opinion that the distinction and exclusivity of teachings of Chassidism should be safeguarded. He believed that these teachings should not be publicized, and only shared with a select few. He was particularly opposed to those who transcribed Rabbi DovBer's teachings and allowed copies to be made.

Once, while Rabbi Pinchas was in Mezeritch, he found one such transcription languishing in a mound of garbage. The sight of this caused him great pain. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was also in Mezeritch at the time, and know of Rabbi Pinchas's intolerance of the indiscriminate publicizing of chassidus. Wishing to appease his holy feelings, he began to speak in metaphor:

"Once upon a time there was a mighty king who had an only son. Wishing his son to grow in wisdom and might, he sent him off to explore faraway lands and far-flung islands. There the prince was to learn the nature of foreign plants and animals and brave dangerous terrain to capture exotic beasts and birds.

"One day, the news reached the king that his son, who was then on a faraway island, had fallen gravely ill, and that the doctors were unable to find a cure for his illness. The king commanded that a call be issued throughout his kingdom: Any man who has knowledge of medicine or can propose a cure for the illness of the prince, should come to the royal palace.

"All the great doctors, all the famed scholars, were silenced; for they knew no remedy nor cure for the illness of the prince.

"One day, there arrived a man who told the king that he knew of a proven remedy for the illness of the prince. However, this remedy was to be found only in an extremely rare and precious stone. Should they find this gem, grind it to the finest of powders, mix it with a superb wine, and give it to the prince to drink - he would be cured.

"The king commanded all the great gemologists of the land to assemble and make a thorough search of the royal treasure stores for the gem which the man had described. After inspecting all the king's gems, the experts discovered a stone that matched the man's description given. However, the gem they found was the centerpiece of the royal crown of the king!

"At first, they were overjoyed to discover the gem; but as soon as they realized that by removing the stone from the crown - the very crown with which their king was coronated - its entire glory would fade, they were extremely distressed. Nonetheless, they were forced to inform the king that the gem had been found.

"The king was overjoyed. He commanded that the gem be extracted, ground to a fine powder, and that the potion for his son be quickly prepared.

"But at that moment, terrible news reached the royal palace: the prince's condition had so deteriorated that his lips were sealed. So ill was the prince that he could take nothing, not even liquids, into his mouth. The experts and scholars assembled at the palace were certain that, under the circumstances, the king would surely direct that the stone not be ground so that the splendor of the royal crown could be preserved.

"How astounded they were to hear the king instructing them to hurry and crush the gem and to prepare the potion as swiftly as possible, and pour it into the mouth of the prince. Grind, pour, squander the entire gemstone, said the king, who knows, perhaps a single drop will enter the mouth of my son and he will be healed.

"The king's ministers were amazed at the king's decision and pleaded with him: At first, when the prince was able to take the cure, it was worthwhile to destroy the gem; but now, when his condition is so hopeless that his ability to swallow even a single drop is in question, why ruin the glorious crown of the king, the crown by which he assumed his throne?

"The king replied to his ministers: If, G-d forbid, my son will not live, who needs the crown? And should he recover, why, the ruined crown will be my greatest glory. It will attest to the loyalty of my only son, who risked his life to fulfill my will and ascend in wisdom and bravery…"

 

 


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