The Baal Shem Tov would periodically bring his students along with him in his wagon on various spiritual missions. They would all climb into the wagon and the "driver" Alexi would face backward, toward the Chassidim, and hashgocha protis would take the horses wherever they were supposed to go.
On one occasion, the horses took them near a frozen lake, that was a known recreation place for the non-Jewish children in the area. The Chassidim knew that whenever the children played there they always carved "tzlamim," crosses in the ice. Not wanting their rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov, to be subjected to such a sight, they asked Alexi to lead the horses further around the lake. But the Baal Shem Tov insisted that he wanted to go to see the lake. Reluctantly, the Chassidim relented.
As they got closer, the Baal Shem Tov saw the impure symbols that the children were carving in the ice and he expressed great exhilaration and happiness at the sight. As usual in such stories, the Chassidim couldn't understand the Besht's reaction. After they left, he explained:
There is a tremendous lesson in what we just saw. The Torah is compared to water. We learn from what happened at this lake that when one's Torah becomes
frozen and cold that it does not merely remain in a plain, frozen state.
Rather, it is immediately replaced by Tuma, impurity.
Just as nature abhors a vacuum, ruchnius, spirituality also abhors a vacuum. As soon as there is a vacuum of kedusha, holiness, the emptiness will be filled with Tuma, impurity. Reb Klonymous Kalman Shapiro, the holy Aish Kodesh, wrote in Chovas Hatalmidim that the soul of a Jew craves excitement. If we raise our children and ourselves to find that excitement in Torah, davening, niggunim, Chassidus, Hisbodedus, chesed, kiriv, or other aspects of avodas Hashem, then the soul's need for excitement will be fulfilled through holiness.
However, if we are bored by mitzvos, davening, learning, etc., then our neshoma is empty and without excitement. Such a situation cannot last. The soul will achieve its excitement somehow. If it is not through kedusha, Torah and mitzvos, then it will be through the pleasures, desires and distractions of olam hazeh, this world.
May Hashem grant us the wisdom to fill our need for excitement with Torah, tefillah, and kedusha, and not with the illicit distractions of this world.
(Picture courtesy of Chabad of Southern Ohio)
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