The Baal HaTanya and the carriage

carriageI was in the process of transcribing the story below that Rav Moshe Weinberger gave on Shabbos Bereishis (and repeated here from a shiur at YU) and, Baruch Hashem, Dixie Yid posted the official drasha based on Rav Weinberger’s notes. I was zoche to be in Woodmere for Simchas Torah and heard the drasha on Shabbos. When I heard the story below, I immediately knew that it was something that was going to stay with me for a long, long time and be something that hovers over me. I am pleased to share the story, as posted by Dixie Yid, below. Please click on the story to read the entire drasha.

 There is a story of the Alter Rebbe, as told by Reb Mottel Slonimer, who is known as one of the most accurate transmitters of chassidic stories, as follows: The Alter Rebbe was at a crossroads early in his life. He was one of the most successful young scholars in Europe and had already mastered the Talmud and halachic authorities. At that point, he felt that he had two choices; to study with the Gaon of Vilna or the Magid of Mezrich. He first chose to study with the Magid of Mezrich.  Although this is not part of Reb Mottel Slonimer’s tradition, it is told that the Alter Rebbe explained his decision to study with the Magid rather than the Gaon of Vilna by saying, “I already know how to learn a little bit, but I haven’t yet learned how to daven.” 

The Alter Rebbe studied with the Magid for several weeks, but he felt that he had not found himself; that the Magid of Mezrich was not the right Rebbe for him. As was the custom at the time, the Alter Rebbe visited the Magid to bid him farewell and seek a blessing for his journey home. During the visit, the Magid accepted his decision, but told him that he should also say goodbye to “the Malach, the angel,” i.e., the Magid’s son Reb Avraham who was known as the Malach because of his great holiness. 

The Alter Rebbe agreed and bid farewell to the Malach, who would later become the Alter Rebbe’s chevrusa. He offered to walk the Alter Rebbe to his horse, wagon, and driver. Before the Alter Rebbe got onto the wagon, the Malach said, “When you get into the wagon, you will see that the driver will smack the horse and it will begin running in an attempt to distance itself from the smack. And then the driver will smack the horse again, and it will run even faster, trying to escape the one pain of the whip. And it will continue on this way throughout your journey. But an intelligent person [Baal Daas] is not a horse. When an intelligent person feels a smack, he does not simply run away from it. He looks back to see who is smacking him and why he is being smacked.”

Being a deep and contemplative person, the Alter Rebbe understood the Malach’s message and stayed in Mezrich, ultimately becoming one of the star students of the Magid. May we all merit to understand the message of the wagon (עגלה)  and look beyond the suffering of the world of strict justice to see G-d’s loving kindness, and thus merit the final redemption, quickly (בעגלא) in our days.

Yeah, this was it! This was what I needed to hear. When difficulties come up, when things don’t work out with parnassassah, when chinuch issues arise, I have do decide if I want to look back and see who’s “whipping” me and why or do I want to just be a horse and keep trying to run away?

4 thoughts on “The Baal HaTanya and the carriage

  1. Yehoshua Siskin

    Very interesting story but it’s not the one you usually hear. In the story you usually hear, the circumstances are the same, but the message from HaMalach to the Alter Rebbe are different.
    It goes like this:
    “Once, after one of his stays in Mezrich, as the Alter Rebbe was leaving the Maggid of Mezrich, Reb Avraham the son of the Mezricher Maggid was accompanying him and he said to the wagon driver to ‘whip the horses.’ There are two versions of what he said. Either to whip the horse so the horse knows he is a horse or that the horse becomes “ois ferd”! (The horse should stop being a horse.) When the Alter Rebbe heard this he turned back saying that he needs to go back to the Maggid to learn this avodah.”

    Reply
  2. Moishela

    BS”D
    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child
    3 Cheshvan 5775 (Oct 26, ’14)

    “The Noose Is Getting Tighter”

    The world has absolutely gone mad, absolutely mad. Murder, accidents, weather related deaths, riots, plagues, Mamash a very scary world. Every day something new. Every day something more bloody. Every day more and more deaths. Every day we become more and more frightened.

    The noose is getting tighter and tighter around us, and the worst part about it is that no one seems to feel it except a very few. Very few people feel it at all. Either they don’t want to feel it so they ignore it, or they are really in some very strong daze or under some kind of drug that keeps them from seeing what is happening. It doesn’t even have to be medication, although I would imagine that in the western world at least 50% of the people are on some kind of psychiatric medication. They drug themselves on Gashmius on materialism so they won’t know, so they won’t feel, so they won’t be afraid. What is happening is frightening because the world is beginning to feel the effects of being ruled by a group of absolute maniacs, of people that are evil to their bone. They are planning crazy things and thinking they can get away with it, thinking that they can turn the world into their private domain, that they can take the Jewish people and turn them into Goyim. Their greatest goal that they want to achieve is they want to destroy, to kill nine-tenths of the world population. What can I tell you? We Yidden are being targeted. Our faith is being targeted, and we must, must come back to Hashem in order to stop it.

    I have dreams, I have such frightening dreams every night. I see cities being blown up. I see all kinds of terrible things happening. I see wild men killing and plundering. I see planes shooting and bombing. I see people dying of thirst and hunger, and I cry and I cry. I am so nervous and so afraid, not for myself – for my family and for Am Yisroel, how terrible, how terrible. I’m not even giving you the details of what I see but it’s very very frightening! I don’t know how to pass on to my fellow Jews through what I am writing, the difficult things we still have to face.

    How can I beg? How can I plead with Am Yisroel to open their eyes, to get rid of the Gashmius, to stop looking like street people, to start looking again like Jews, to start acting again like Jews? I’m talking to the Frum. What else can I say to you? What else can I do? If you read over everything I’ve said to this point, you should already be doing Teshuva in the strongest way, but I see in the streets that people are buying and buying things that are not necessary. I see that they are making fancy parties and fancy Chasunas and things that are not necessary. I see and I feel that children are growing up to love, to lust after Gashmius. I see how we are eating like gluttons, but have become very very weak in our Mitzvos and it makes me cry. Now we are facing the most horribly difficult time in history and we’re messing around with nonsense.

    What can I say? What can I do? I’m only a young person with an old head and an old heart, but I can tell you this: you better straighten up fast. You better get your act together because the suffering is going to be unbelievable if not, and if you take yourself in hand then you can save yourself so much suffering, so much misery. Do you understand? People, do you understand? You can save yourselves so much suffering, but if not it will be unimaginable suffering. I’m begging you. I’m begging you. Put your trust in Hashem not in people, not in science, not in chief rabbis, or in heads of state. Put your trust only in Hashem, only in Hashem, only in Hashem. We have to be like the Yidden that left Mitzrayim and spent forty years in the desert. We have to be like that. We have to have that kind of trust of Hashem without question, no matter what happens, no questions asked. We must know in our hearts and our souls that it’s all for our good, it’s to help us go higher, to help us reach the next stage of Creation which is Olam Habah of Moshiach Tzidkainu, and our journey upwards, to total salvation, to completely become one with Hashem. That’s what I have to say.

    I’m afraid that my words have become useless because people have become used to listening to them, even though they are harsh and they are strong and people see around them terrible things happening, but they are getting used to it. They want their Gashmius more than they want to listen. So I will say a few more sentences to make sure you understand. Please, please do Teshuva. Change your way of life. Become Tzniusdik, the men and the women. Trust Hashem in everything. Don’t go looking outside of your Daled Amos for the Yeshua. The Yeshua is only with Hashem, only with Hashem. In the near future we are going to witness very bloody happenings, very frightening and very bloody. Here in Eretz Yisroel there will be more riots and more trouble, but in Chutz La’aretz it will be really bad, really bad.

    Between now and Chanukah we are going to have a rush of incidents all over the world, that will put great fear into most of the population of the world. You won’t know where to look first, up, down, left, right. Everywhere there will be trouble big big trouble. Hashem is trying to show us that the inevitable must be and that means that we are coming very close to the Geula Sheleima, and the hardest part of this birth is now and therefore you can either have an easy birth or a very difficult one. It’s your choice.

    Reply
    1. Yehoshua

      שלום מוישלה
      I do not see gashmius as big of a problem as our weakness in אמונה.
      Today, the people with the strongest belief are the head choppers. HaShem needs believers. When our faith weakens, we create a vacuum that is filled by the head choppers. Maybe you are correct in the sense that gashmius and weakness of faith go hand in hand. Certainly, though, the only way to defeat the head choppers is by strengthening our faith. Could it be that HaShem gave us head choppers in order that we should re-examine our faith and strengthen our resolve?
      בברכות רבות
      יהושע בן אליהו

      Reply
  3. Moishela

    BS”D
    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child 5775 #2
    27 Cheshvan 5775 (Nov 20, ’14)

    http://ladaat.info/showgil.aspx?par=20141129&gil=1713

    “You Better Get Serious”

    Oy, oy, oy, what a tragedy what a terrible tragedy. Choshuva Yidden, not just Stam Yidden, slain in the cruelest way while standing Davening to Hashem. It could theoretically happen to any one of us, Chas Vesholom. The sight of the bodies full of blood wrapped in their Talaisim and their Tefillin, Tzaddikim slaughtered in front of the eyes of their friends, what could be more tragic than that? But everything is a message to Am Yisroel, and this too is a message. This too is a message that we have to try very hard not to ignore. We have to try very hard to understand every aspect of the message and perform what we have to perform, to do what we have to do.
    Let’s discuss it. These giants that were killed, these Tzaddikim that were killed only because they were Jews and for no other reason, wrapped in their Talis and their Tefillin in the middle of Davening to Hakodosh Boruch Hu,

    Reply

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