Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Baal Shem T ov says to Dobush : “How can you com e b e fo re
the heaven ly c o u r t while ho ld in g on to th e sh a rp axe? Rid y o u r ­
se lf o f th e axe !” Again : “How can you com e b e fo re th e heaven ly
co u r t with th e f t in y o u r hands? Rid y o u rse lf o f th e go ld !”. T h is
idea is ap tly exp re ssed in th e T a lm u d by th e simile: “H e is
like a m an who imm erses h im se lf (in th e r i tu a l b a th fo r p u ­
r ification) while ho ld in g in his h a n d a rep tile (which defiles
h im ) .”4
A n o th e r p o p u la r idea exp re ssed in this ballad echoes th e well-
known ta lm ud ic s ta tem en t: “Said Rabbi H an in a Bar H am a ‘Ev­
e r y th in g is in th e h a n d s o f H e av en , e x c e p t th e f e a r o f
H e av en ,’ ”5 o r in a n o th e r version : “A p e rso n does n o t b ru ise
his f in g e r h e re below un less it was d e c re ed fo r him above .”
T h is is th e m e an ing o f th e Baal Shem T o v ’s words to Dobush :
“A m an is like th e re f lec tion in th e wa ter , a re f lec tion o f th e
will o f God: H e does all th a t he is shown from H eaven above
2.
DEVOTION TO THE M ITZVO T
T h e love o f an d devo tion to the com m an dm en ts o f th e T o r a h
f ind beau tifu l an d p o ig n an t exp re ss ion especially in two ballads:
Rabbi Leib Travels to Vienna
an d
The Story o f the Tailor Who Hon­
ored the Sabbath.
In the first, Rabbi Leib is trave lling to V ienna
f rom his hom e tow n in Po land on a Friday in o r d e r to p e r su a d e
Jo s e p h II, ru le r o f th e A u s t ro -H u n g a r ia n Em p ire , to rem ove
the tax p laced on the p u rch a se o f cand les. H e tells his coachm an
th a t he p lans to be back in tim e fo r c and le - ligh ting th a t sam e
even ing . T o his g re a t a s to n ishm en t th e simple coachm an sees,
as i f in a d re am , th e coach an d ho rses be ing u p l if ted in to th e
air. T h e g re a t d istance is literally swallowed u p a n d in no tim e
they a re in V ienna . Rabbi Leib e n tru s ts th e ho rses to th e ca re
o f the coachm an an d rep a irs to th e palace. D u r in g his in terv iew
with the em p e ro r th e Rabbi succeeds in hav ing th e evil d e c ree
o f th e tax on cand les an n u l led . He an d the coachm an trave l
hom e . Again th e ho rses an d coach a re flying an d they a re back
in time fo r cand le - ligh ting th e same even ing .
4 Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 16a; Cf. also Rashi on Lamentations 3:41;
Maimonides, Laws o f Repentance, 2,3: Zohar III, 273a.
5 Berakhot 33b.
6 Hullin 7b.