A Tale of Two Treasures

Posted by Levi Cooper on April 13, 2015
Topics: Hasidic Works

From the tales of the holy Maggid of Melbourne, this story recounts the adventures of our master, our teacher, as he journeyed through Poland with his disciples, raising sparks of holiness in each place he visited. As our sages have taught us: ואפילו בהסתרה שבתוך ההסתרה בוודאי גם שם נמצא ה’ יתברך.

On the holy journey of our master and teacher, the Maggid of Melbourne, may he live for many good years, we arrived at the holy city of Tiktin [Tykocin], which was once a great Jewish city, may it be rebuilt anew speedily in our day. With trembling and awe we prayed the afternoon service. Our Master’s prayers soared to the greatest heights and split asunder the very gates of heaven. As for us—O, who are we and what power do we have?–we grabbed ahold of the edge of his mantle and ascended along with him. It was clear to us that such holy prayer had not ascended to heaven since the destruction of the village and its Jews. At our Rebbe’s command we sung the words, “Come in peace,” inscribed on the synagogue walls. In our hearts we saw the greats of Tiktin singing and dancing every Shabbes. Quickly we were swept away, and amidst the impassioned flames of holy fire we broke into a dance of sacred joy. As we danced our Rebbe’s eyes brimmed with tears and his head seemed to stretch up toward heaven. Two of our holy fellowship entered and whispered in the Rebbe’s ears: “In a small room above us there lies a Sefer Torah, totally unattended. Is it our duty to redeem such a precious object?” The Rebbe stood in his place and shut his eyes, and from his brow we could see how he navigated the conceptual pathways forged by our legal authorities: the case of ownerless driftwood, the commandment to redeem the imprisoned, mortal danger, desecration of God’s name, and the ways of peace. To and fro he roamed through the Talmud and responsa with the prayer in his heart that the One who grants wisdom to people should lead them down the correct path. He was still standing in place, his face like an angel of the Lord of hosts, when two others from our group came along and said in a frenzy: “We’ve got it.” As soon as the words left their mouths, a shadow covered the face of our Master. Quickly he commanded us to continue on our journey, saying: “We have already taken up the holy sparks from this place.”

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About Levi Cooper

Levi teaches Bible, Hasidut, Maimonides and Midrash at Pardes. Originally from Australia, Levi holds an LL.B., LL.M. and Ph.D. from the Law Faculty of Bar-Ilan University, and is a member of the Israel Bar Association. He is currently an adjunct professor in the Law Faculty of Bar-Ilan University and post-doctoral fellow in the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University. Click here to read more.

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