Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Chassidic Story

Some of you may have noticed that I have moved away from the mission of this blog: to propogate and educate the world in Kabbalah and Chassidut (with a modern twist). Well - I'm back. I will doff my Biblical trappings of the past few weeks and don a shtreiml and bekeshe. (Is there actually a correct spelling in English for bekeshe? Maybe it is a kind of onomatopoeia. The sound that is produced as you stroke your hand down a black silky coat - b'kesh.)

I have started attending a shiur given by my LCR - Local Chassidishe Rebbe, and I am going to attempt to share a story that he told us. Yet another Shameless Zionist Plug - other than Monsey Ir HaKodesh, I am not sure how many LCR's there are in America. Naturally here in Israel, they make themselves available to a spiritually needy public.

Like any good Chassidic story, the emphasis is the ambience and not the veracity of the details. Pull up a bowl of cholent and feast your eyes on a classic piece of Jewish lore.

It is said of Reb Simchah Bunam of Peshisca, that he was always the last person to enter a tisch or simchah. The reason for this is connected to Reb Simchah Bunam's cheshbon haNefesh - he was constantly striving to acheive the middah of aneivut (humility). He would stand outside the Shteibl or Beit Midrash and look at every Jew that was sitting inside. Reb Simchah would determine how is this Jew a better mentsch than me? In what way am I a worse Jew than that person? Only after he had compared himself to every Jew that was inside, then Reb Simchah Bunim himself would enter.

One leil Shabbat Reb Simchah Bunim stood outside his Shteibl and reviewed the crowd who had come to the tisch. He saw one Jew who had committed a terrible aveirah during the past week. Reb Simchah Bunim asked himself, "How can I possibly be lower than that Jew?" He stood swaying from side to side for over half an hour, trying to imagine some way that he could be lower than this particular Jew sitting inside. Finally, his face lit up as he found the solution to his problem. He told himself, "If I had committed that aveirah (chas v'sholom), I would never have showed up to my Rebbe's Tisch that same week!" And then R. Simchah Bunim went into the tisch with a spirit of aneivut.

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