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The Rabbi, The Businessman and Learning

The post The Rabbi, The Businessman and Learning appeared first on Story Tour.

We mention the Patriarchs (Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchak (Isaac) and Yaakov (Jacob)) at the beginning of the Shemoneh Esrei not only to remember and praise their merits but also to challenge ourselves to try to be like them.

Once a beloved and holy rabbi was learning with his students in the beis medrash (study hall) just before the prayers that welcome in the holy Shabbos (Kabbolas Shabbos). Suddenly a stranger entered the beis medrash. From the way he was dressed, it was obvious that he was a very successful businessman. After sitting down, he asked one of the students to point out the holy rabbi. When the student did so, the businessman’s face suddenly went pale.

After the prayers were over, the man approached the holy rabbi and greeted him. The holy rabbi politely returned the greeting, assuming the man was a stranger. Then the man looked straight into the holy rabbi’s eyes and asked him “Do you know who I am? I was your chavrusa (study partner) over thirty years ago.”

The holy rabbi looked at him closely and said, “Of course I recognize you, I am eternally grateful to you, because you are the one who helped me develop my potential in learning.”

After they chatted for a while, the businessman said, “I feel devastated. Look at you, you are now a holy rabbi, respected by all and held in high esteem as a talmid chacham (Torah scholar well versed in Jewish religious law). Yet we both know that when we were students, I was the one who helped you and explained the finer points of our beloved teacher and rabbi’s lessons. How can you ex­plain why you developed so much in learning, while I just stagnated?”

Ari haKodesh

The holy rabbi thought for a few moments and replied, “Do you remember that when we were students, there was a library in a room next to the study hall? In that library was a copy of the biography of Ari haKodesh (Rabbi Yitzchok Luria). When you read that biography, I remember how awed you were. You came out of the reading room with your eyes shining and declared, `He was really a great rabbi and a guiding light for his generation!’ When I finished reading that biography, however, I said to myself that the life of holy rabbi was proof of the great heights a person can reach. I decided without delay that I, too, would aspire to emulate him and try to become a great leader and rabbi. This strong drive helped me to realize my potential and develop beyond my greatest expectations. That is the difference between us. I was not satisfied to simply acknowledge that he was a great rabbi and a guiding light for his generation, but I wanted to become one myself.”

Similarly, when we come to the point in our prayers when we mention the merits of our Patriarchs, it is not enough to simply acknowledge their greatness. We must also take upon ourselves the challenge and try to emulate them. Thus, we say, “When will my deeds reach the level of the Avos?” Even though we may not ever reach their level, we can consider it a great accomplishment to at least try to follow in their footsteps.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Rachmiel Tobesman is a motivational speaker and Maggid (spiritual Storyteller). He is available for speaking engagements or storytelling, Click here to contact us

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The Rabbi, The Businessman and Learning

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