Souls on Fire

Souls on Fire

August 7, 2007

Ellie Wiesel tells many Hasidic tales in his book, Souls on Fire.  One of my favorites follows and addresses today's ministry.

Out of the great revival movement in Judaism called Hasidism, a story comes about the first time that the Maggid of Mazeritch visited Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the movement that persists down to today.

The Maggid would become the next great leader of the movement, but on the first visit things did not go well.  The Maggid left the Baal Shem's presence feeling that it had been a failure.  They had failed to communicate.  He packed his things at the inn for the journey back home.  After the horses had been harnessed, a messenger arrived and called him back to the Baal Shem, and he decided to go for one last chance.  The Baal Shem handed the Maggid the Book of Splendor, the Zohar.  "Can you read?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, read!" 

The Maggid obeyed.  "That is not the way one reads," the Baal Shem interrupted.  "I can see that you know how to decipher the signs, but your knowledge lacks soul."  That was the turning point.  The room filled with light.  The Maggid stood at Sinai again; he saw the fire and understood how much he lacked.  He went on to be the favored disciple of the Baal Shem.

Not a profession, a vocation; not a career, a calling ? irresistible, compelling, empowering, souls on fire.