Thursday, February 5, 2009

Igniting the Spark Within

The halacha is that on Yom Tov, one may not move an animal that has died. Chazal taught us that a materialistic person is compared to an animal, and they also said that the wicked are considered dead even during their lifetimes. This is because they do not move forward spiritually or morally. A “dead animal” of this kind who doesn’t even feel a spark of life or inspiration on Yom Tov cannot be moved by anything short of a miracle.
A group of maskilim once approached the famous Dubno Maggid, zt”l, with a strange request. “We would like to invite you to lecture to us, provided that you promise that you won’t lace your storytelling with mussar. We aren’t interested in that; we just want to hear a good tale.”
The Maggid heard them out and offered them a parable right then and there. “Once, a man from a small town visited the city for the first time. He saw many things that astonished him, but nothing came close to the wondrous device that the blacksmith used to keep his fires burning bright. The man had never seen a bellows before, and the fantastic apparatus seemed to manufacture fire from nothing at all.
He said to himself, “Such a device could save me so much time! I must get one!”
He bought a bellows off the blacksmith for what seemed a ridiculously low price and brought it back proudly to his little town. He summoned everyone to the middle of the town to demonstrate the magical power of his new acquisition. To his dismay and great shame, however, the bellows would make fire at all—it only blew air!
The simple man returned to the smith fuming with indignation. “How could you sell me this fire-maker when you knew full well that it doesn’t work?”
“What ‘fire-maker?’ This is just a bellows—everyone knows that it blows air that fans a spark into a flame. Am I to blame if you don’t know the simplest truth? If you want a fire, you need a spark!”
The Maggid thundered, “And you maskilim are exactly the same! A story is just like a bellows. Unless you have a spark of willingness to change, there is no moving you at all!”
But when Rav Nosson of Breslov heard this story he said: " Even the worst Maskilim actually do have a small spark within that can be fanned into a roaring flame. But one must know how to reach it..."


Neil said...

How true. Great post.

Micha Golshevsky said...

As always, I appreciate the chizuk.