A Well-Formed Self

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The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz (“Chozeh”) (1745-1815) is commemorated on the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av). The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

How He Answered The Esteemed Mitnaged

A certain prominent member of the non-Hasidic Orthodox community (Mitnaged Gaon) asked the holy Rav of Lublin:

“To your credit, a huge number of Jews stream to you to learn from you.

“What is that special quality that they see in you that causes them to rush to you? How do you think of it?

“And why don’t they do the same with me? It seems to me that I am an extremely distinguished Torah scholar with much learning at my fingertips stemming from the heights of God’s glory!”

The holy RavĀ  answered him simply:

“I, too, am surprised and even astonished by the fact that they come to me.

“For as I see myself, I am undeserving of accolades. In my eyes, I am low down, close to the ground.

“I ask myself:

‘Who am I? What am I?

‘Why do many Jews come to me when they are seeking answers to their questions of God?

‘Why don’t they go to you given your impeccable credentials and your well-known reputation as a renowned scholar, a source of Torah wisdom and a man of great power and influence in supernal realms?’

“But perhaps the answer lies in this very way that others see you and in your having this amazing reputation.

“I, in contrast, think of myself differently: I feel that I know my value and it is not worthy of such titles and pretensions.

“Perhaps therein lies the reason that they come to me.

“And perhaps it is your view of yourself that causes your honor to ask of yourself, ‘Why don’t they come to me?’ I’d say that this is the reason that they leave you and don’t come to you.”

(The New Order Of Generations)


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