Stories of Tzadikim / Staying Unfrozen

Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky

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A Gut Voch Chevra, let me tell you a Maaiseh. The story goes, that the Baal Shem Tov once went to a number of his students in the bais medrash and he said, let’s go on a trip together. This is something he did very often; he would go on these mysterious trips and he would hand-pick particular chassidim for particular trips. One time he comes to a group of them and said we’re going on a trip together. 

They all get into the wagon, the Baal Shem Tov whispers the destination in the ears of the horse, he sits back and continue on. After a number of hours they find themselves in front of a frozen lake. Now, just to appreciate the scene, this was, the dead of winter in Russia by a frozen lake. The custom was in those days, a particular religious custom that the non-jews had, that in the middle of the winter during the time when they had their holidays in December and January the whole community would come out to the frozen lake, the children would ice-skate and so on. The children would also take sticks and carve crucifixes in the ice, that’s what they would do. then the priests would come, they would have ceremonies there, they’d have Mas there and it was a whole thing. Obviously not the place for a jew, not a place for the Baal Shem Tov, but this is where the wagon ends up in front of the frozen lake while all of this is going on. This is very strange, the students look at the Baal Shem Tov, and say “Maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere.” 

The Baal Shem Tov sees where they are and all of a sudden he becomes very excited. He jumps out of the wagon, he sees what’s going on, all the children making crucifixes, he sees the priests doing their services over there and the Baal Shem Tov gets even more excited. He puts on his gartel, straightens his shtreimel and walks over there. All the non-jews see this rabbi coming, they’re so shocked by the scene. They’re frozen solid and they didn’t know what to do. The Baal Shem Tov begins to close his eyes, daven and shuckle it’s mamash a whole Avoidah. The students don’t know what is going on over here, first they try to tell him, “Rebbe, this is maybe not the right place for us” but the Baal Shem Tov is completely fixated on this scene, completely in a state of Dveykus. After about half an hour or so, of being in that dimension he would go to and doing his avodah. The Baal Shem Tov says okay, “Ois Gepolt” mission accomplished. He takes off his gartel and they go back to their hometown back to the Beis Medrash.

After all this the students go over to the Baal Shem Tov and ask him what in the world was going on?'' The Baal shem Tov says, there’s something in reality, the Ribono Shel Olam created the world in such a way that water is the source of all life. All good things, all delicious things, all holy things come from water. Water can be a mikvah, water sustains vegetation. Life comes from water, it’s unbelievable. But look at this, that lake that we visited is the same water. You see what happens when water freezes over, it can become an avodah zara mamash, it becomes an idol. A crucifix can be etched on the ice. There is such a phenomenon. 

The Baal shem Tov says I came to the world to try to fix that. There shouldn’t be such a thing that water should turn into a crucifix. What’s the eitzah, how does a person stop this from happening? The Baal Shem Tov says that such a thing could happen, when it’s extremely cold the water turns to ice and it can become mamash a crucifix. What’s the eitzah? 

Very often the world is cold outside, you can’t  snap your fingers and make it summer time. So what can you do? The Baal Shem Tov said even if it’s cold the only reason the water froze is because the water was still, it wasn’t moving. If water is moving then no matter how cold it is outside, moving waters are not going to freeze. The Baal Shem Tov said the eitzah for a jew is you try to stay warm. You try as hard as you can, but sometimes it’s the winter and sometimes it’s the winter inside of us and it’s very difficult to maintain that heat and warmth. So then what do you do? The Baal Shem Tov said you keep on moving, Shachris, Mincha, Maariv, MAasim Tovim, Emunah, Strength, Vaiter. We don’t stop. If you’re moving then we don’t freeze. 

The Baal Shem Tov says that’s my avodah in life, it’s to keep jews warm and if they can’t stay warm you create that warmth by moving, do more mitzvos, be proud of what you accomplished and go vaiter and don’t stop. That’s the chizuk that we learn from this story. 

What we learn from this story is that we have to stay warm. If we stay warm we won’t freeze over, and if we can’t stay warm we generate warmth and heat by moving. Hashem should bless us we should always keep on moving from Mitzvah to Mitzvah, from davening to davening, from chesed to chesed, from faith to faith, from level to level and with that that the whole world should be encompassed with that warmth. The warmth of the neshama, of a yid should spread and spread, bringing the whole world back to Aviv, of springtime, of Geulah we should be zocheh to see it with our own eyes, Amen, A gut Voch. 


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