Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Put the spiritual on a pedestal

Rabbi Shalom DovBer, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, had an older brother, himself an illustrious and saintly scholar, by the name of Rabbi Zalman Aharon. As a young child, Zalman Aharon was bothered by the fact that he was noticeably shorter than his younger brother.

One day, Zalman Aharon gently pushed his brother into a small ditch. And Zalman Aharon gleefully pointed out that now he was taller...

The boys' father, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, observed the entire incident. The Rebbe asked for a chair and asked Zalman Aharon to stand on it. "Tell me," he asked, "who's taller now?"

Zalman Aharon excitedly answered that once again he was taller.

said Rabbi Shmuel. "To be bigger than your friend, there is no need to pull him down. Simply elevate yourself!"

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This week, on the 18th of Elul, we mark the birthdays of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov father of the chassidic movement, and Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi who founded the Chabad stream of chassidism.

They taught us and challenged us to put the spiritual on a pedestal rather than wrestle with the material in its ditch. Instead of focusing on the lowliness of the mundane, concentrate on the sublimity of the spirit. As one of the chassidic mentors once said, "if the pleasure seeking people of the world were introduced to the delights offered by prayer and the communion with the divine that it affords, they would abandon all other pleasures and pray all day!"

Open a chassidic text and study about G‑d, His awe-inspiring splendor and His magnificent deeds. And G‑d craves a relationship with you and me, as individuals. We can unite with Him through studying Torah, praying, and observing His mitzvot. Vote for the spirit not because the alternative is depressing, but because the spirit is the absolute best place for you to cast your ballot.