Monday, August 19, 2013

Blogging Elul Day 13: Forgive

There was once a man who had desecrated the Sabbath against his will because his carriage had broken down, and although he walked and almost ran, he did not reach the town before the beginning of the holy hours. For this, young Rabbi Mikhal imposed a very harsh and long penance on him. The man tried to do as he had been told with all his strength, but he soon found his body could not endure it. He began to feel ill, and even his mind became affected. About this time he learned that the Ba’al Shem was traveling through this region and had stopped in a place nearby. He went to him, mustered his courage, and begged the master to rid him of the sin he had committed. “Carry a pound of candles to the House of Prayer,” said the Ba’al Shem, “and have them lit for the Sabbath. Let that be your penance.” The man thought the Tzaddik had not quite understood what he had told him and repeated his request most urgently. When the Ba’al Shem insisted on his incredibly mild dictum, the man told him how heavy a penance had been imposed on him. “You just do as I said,’ the master replied. “And tell Rabbi Mikhal to come to the city of Chvostov where I shall hold the coming Sabbath.” The man’s face had cleared. He took leave of the rabbi. On the way to Chvostov, a wheel broke on Rabbi Mikhal’s carriage and he had to continue on foot. Although he hurried all he could, it was dark when he entered the town, and when he crossed the Ba’al Shem’s threshold, he saw he had already risen, his hand on the cup, to say the blessing over the wine to introduce the day of rest. The master paused and said to Rabbi Mikhal who was standing before him numb and speechless: “Good Sabbath, my sinless friend! You had never tasted the sorrow of the sinner, your heart had never throbbed with his despair—and so it was easy for your hand to deal out penance.” From Martin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim

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