Knowing the Story about the Place

Once, in the times of the holy founder of the Chassidic movement, grave danger faced the community. The Baal Shem Tov traveled to a special spot in the forest, lit a mystical fire and prayed a special Kabbalistic formula. Sure enough, the danger passed and all was well.

Many years passed after that incident. Then danger again loomed after the passing of the Baal Shem Tov. His successor, Reb Dov Ber of Mezritch, as leader now faced the danger and had to act to avert tragedy. The Maggid of Mezritch traveled to the same spot where his Rebbe had prayed. He was not sure how to light the fire, but the words of the Kabbalistic prayer, that he remembered. And so the Rebbe of Mezritch said, “Hashem, I remember the place and the prayer, but not the fire. Please accept the place and the prayer and help.” Sure enough, the danger passed and all was well.

Time moved on. The Maggid of Mezritch no longer led. It was now the holy Reb Moshe Leib of Sassov who had to save his community from a danger. The saintly Reb Moshe Leib traveled far, arriving at the spot he knew had been used by his Rebbe and his Rebbe’s Rebbe. Here, he burst into tears, declaring, “Hashem, at least I remember the place. The fire we didn’t know how to light already in my Rebbe’s times. And, now, what can I say? Even the Kabbalistic prayer I don’t remember. But, Hashem, here I am, at the place where the Baal Shem Tov prayed. Therefore, in the merit of the place, please save.” Sure enough, the danger passed and all was well.

Yes, dear reader, time doesn’t stop. It moves on, and the next generation saw the saintly Rizhiner Rebbe facing a danger. Alas, time had erased so much. The prayer had been forgotten. The way to make a special fire had been forgotten. And, now, even the place where the former great leaders had prayed, even that, too, was forgotten. Said the Holy Rizhiner, “Hashem, the story of the place, the fire and the prayer will have to suffice.” It did. The danger passed and all was well.

One of the terms for prayer is “see’ach” which is conversation. Prayer is a way of communicating, of talking to G-d. Did you ever observe a couple as they begin, first newly-weds, then caught in the hectic child-raising years, then in the elderly years? In the first years, when the strength is full-on, many heroic acts could be done. Fires lit, places traveled to, poetry written. Yet, when there is no strength left for that to be done, the memory of the past is enough to declare the same type of love. Little old lady sitting in the rocking chair next to her little old husband might say wistfully, “remember that first year when you took me on the boat ride?” The husband would smile and remember…and the two would gaze at each other as if they were back in time on the boat ride. The recounting brings back the emotions of that deep love. That is what the Rizhiner was saying, “the story of the place…that’s enough.”