Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fire from the Simple Jews

"Even though fire comes down from heaven, nonetheless it is a mitzvah to bring [and light] a fire from a Hedyot – a simpleton." (Yoma 21b)

Our sages taught that a miracle occurred when the sacrificial offerings where brought on the altar,a fire would alight and come down from the heavens and consume the offerings! Nonetheless the sages taught that it was still a mitzvah for a person, called by our sages the Hedyot to light the fire. What is a Hedyot? Although it can and usually does mean a non Kohen, Chassidus understands this passage in Yoma in a remarkable way: An even greater miracle occurs when we being fire and light from a simpleton than from heaven!

An ancient understanding of chemistry teaches that the potential for fire and flame is hidden deep within each flammable object. So that when candles and oil burst into flame, it is this property of combustible material that is awakened and the latent potential for fire is revealed from deep within the recesses of that object which was previously hidden from the naked eye.

In a spiritual parallel: Hidden deep within each one of us is a potential spiritual fire and flame within our souls. We need only to ignite a spark to set that combustible material aflame! And if you think that only the truly great tzadik has such a rich reserve of oil you are wrong. Even though fire comes down from heaven, from a heavenly high and holy place, there is a great mitzvah to bring fire from the simpleton! From the pashuteh yid, from the simplest of Jews the fires and flames of holiness and sanctity can be seen in this world. Deep within the recesses of his inner being is a greater inner light, the more simple and pashut such a Jew is the greater the revelation and the greater the wonder of the light revealed!

This is the miracle of a Chassidic tale, for it reveals to us what Chassidus came to reveal to the world, that hidden deep within each of us is that potential for fire and light, the simpler the Jew the greater heights he has the potential to rise to and the greater is his uplifting. The Chassidic tale uplifts us and reveals to us these hidden flames.

This concept was taught by Rav Zisha of Hanipoli when he explained that the reason Eliyahu HaNavi visits every Bris and that a chair is prepared in his honor is that he comes to bring tidings of great joy! To reveal to each and every one of us that we have the potential just as he did to arise alive heavenward in a fiery chariot revealed by the light and flame within our souls!

From a collection of Chassidic tales by Y. Fishel Schneerson


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