Friday, February 8, 2008

Reversing Impurity

A certain baal teshuvah once came to Rav Aharon HaGadol of Karlin zt”l, and begged to be shown the path to true repentance, since he had been living a life steeped in sin.

Rav Aharon HaGadol took his time examining the man, and shook his head. “I’m sorry, my son, but the impurity that clings to you is too powerful. How can I give you a remedy? Go to the great Maggid of Mezritch—perhaps he will be able to do what I cannot.”

The tzaddik gave the baal teshuvah a brief note for the Maggid: “The bearer of this letter is defiled from top to toe, not a millimeter of his soul is undamaged, but he truly wants to come close to G-d.” He then sent the poor man on his way.

The journey from Karlin to Mezritch was long and arduous, and the man suffered from all the cold and privation that traveling on foot from White Russia to the Ukraine could put in his path. Eventually, he found his way to the holy Maggid, and gave him the note without saying a word.

The Maggid slowly raked him over with his piercing gaze, and then surprised him with a gentle smile. “You don’t look too bad to me. I’m sure that Rav Aharon wrote the truth when he saw you last…but your journey has already purified you more than you think!”

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