Tuesday, February 13, 2007
R' Meir from Premishlan & R' Yisroel Rizhiner on the Road
I saw a great story brought down by Rav Zevin in Sipurei Chassidim on Parshas Yisro about the differences and an interaction between Rav Meir from Premishlan and Rav Yisroel from Ruzhin.
Reb Meir'l of Premishlan was known as living in complete poverty and simplicity. Everything in his house was old and broken. A penny never spent the night in his house, since he would give away anything he had to others who needed it.
R' Yisroel from Ruzhin, on the other hand, lived like a king, in the way of the Malchus of Dovid Hamelech, who he is a descendant of.
One day they were both riding past each other on the path. Rav Yisroel was riding a beautiful carriage, drawn by four horses fit for royalty. While Rav Meir'l was riding in an old, rickety wagon, drawn by one, old horse.
Rav Yisrael asked him, "Why does his honer drive in a wagon driven by only one horse? I use four horses because if my wagon ever gets stuck in the mud, these powerful horses can pull it out, and I can be on my way. But if your wagon falls into the mud, what will you do?!"
Rav Meir answered him, "Since I only have one horse, and I know I would not be able to extricate myself from the mud, I'm more careful not to get stuck there in the first place."
That is the end of the story. Whenver I see sipurei maasios like this, where you find seeminly mundane conversations betwen Tzadikim, I know there is a lot more going on there under the surface, if only I can access the meaning/symbolism that is really supposed to come accross. In this case, though, I like the story so much partially because I think the meaning is more accessible. So here's my, admittedly obvious, take on the Machlokes between these two Tzadikim is in their approach to life:
Rav Yisroel from Ruzhin is saying that the best way to succeed in Olam Hazeh is by emphasizing the streagth and greatness of one's self as a Yid, as a ben Melech. If one strengthens himself, then whenever he falls into the schmutz, gashmius, ta'avos, and mud of this world, then he can extricate himself and do teshuva.
Whereas, R' Meir'l is countering that if you emphasize the weakness, the humility, and the inadequacy of man before his Creator, then you will realize that you can't rely on your own strength to get you out of tumah, ta'avos, and gahsmius when you sink in. Rather, you'll be forced to be more careful not to become immersed in those things, to begin with.