A Hasidic tale:
On Shabbat Terumah, when we read of God’s demand for an offering, Rabbi Yitzhak of Vorki happened to be visiting Rabbi Mendel, the Kotzker Rebbe, who had recently begun to live in great seclusion, receiving only close friends such as Rabbi Yitzhak.
“Why,” asked Rabbi Yitzhak, have you gone to such extremes in withdrawing from people?”
Rabbi Mendel replied, “The answer is in this week’s parashah. ‘Veyikhu-li terumah–that they may take for Me an offering,’ which is explained to mean ‘Li–for Me–that is, for My name.’ When a Jew wishes to take the proper path, God’s way, then he has no alternative but to make an ‘offering–terumah.’ He must offer up all companionship, not only that of evil people, but even that of good people. After all, the verse continues, ‘Me-et kol ish asher yidvenu libo–from every man whose heart makes him willing.'”
The Rabbi of Vorki responded immediately. “The answer to what you just said is right there in the same verse–‘that they take for Me an offering.’ When a Jew wishes to take the proper path, God’s way, he must take whatever people have to offer him. He should accept the companionship of every person, and by associating with everyone, receive from him whatever that person can give him to take on the proper path. But there is one exception. From the person whose heart is locked, he will receive nothing at all. Only the one ‘whose heart makes him willing’ can give.”
What is the real disagreement between these two Hasidic masters?
With whom do you agree?
Now, can you find justification for the other’s stance?
We’ll discuss this story together on Shabbat morning.
Rabbi David Wise