Fire In Ice

By Rabbi Dovid Markel


The story is told[1] about the Bal Shem Tov, that once in the middle of the night in the dead of the winter, the Bal Shem Tov told his assistant that he wished to go to the mikva.

In those days the mikva was in the river and in the winter going to the mikva entailed breaking the ice that had encased the river. The assistant took an axe and a torch and accompanied the Bal Shem Tov to the river.

As the Bal Shem Tov was dipping in the river the torch became extinguished and the assistant became frightened in the dark.

The Bal Shem Tov instructed the assistant to take an icicle and to light it as if it was a torch. The assistant did so and indeed the icicle burnt as if it were a torch.

In this story is embedded the weltanschauung of the Bal Shem Tov and what he was out to accomplish in his life. Through the teachings of Chassidus the Bal Shem Tov effected that even the coldest hearts that are dispassionate about G-d and their faith can be lit aflame and become engulfed in the G-dly light.

[1] Ramach Osiyos, 52

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