Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Thought for Elul

This is from a simple book by Martin Buber called "The Way of Man" based on Chassidic ideas. This is the opening Chapter.


Rabbi Shneur Zalman, The Rav of Northern White Russia (died 1813), was put in jail in Petersburg, because the mitnagdim had de­nounced his principles and his way of living to the government. He was awaiting trial when the chief of the gendarmes entered his cell. The majestic and quiet face of the rav, who was so deep in meditation that he did not at first notice his visitor, suggested to the chief, a thoughtful person, what manner of man he had before him. He began to converse with his prisoner and brought up a number of questions which had occurred to him in reading the Scriptures. Finally he asked: 'How are we to understand that God, the all-knowing, said to. Adam: " Where art thou?"

'Do you believe,' answered the rav, 'that the Scrip­tures are eternal and that every era, every generation and every man is included in them?'

'I believe this,' said the other.

'Well then,' said the zaddik,' in every era, God calls to every man: "Where are you in your world? So many years and days of those allotted to you have passed, and how far have you gotten in your world?" God says something like this :"You have lived forty-­six years. How far along are you?",

When the chief of the gendarmes heard his age mentioned, he pulled himself together, laid his hand on the rav's shoulder, and cried: 'Bravo!'

But his heart trembled.

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