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Arie's Story

"I will tear you like a fish!"

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This story happened about 250 years ago, in the time of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. The village where he lived was called (and is still called) Mezhebuzh. One time, a dispute
happened between two men and, as it happens many times with quarrels, instead of calming down and forgetting about it, it got worse every day. It got to the point that they were fighting even in the synagogue. One time, before the prayer, one man shouted to the other: “I will tear you apart like a piece of fish!”

The Baal Shem Tov was there and became very serious. He asked his students to form a circle, each one putting his hands on the shoulder of his neighbors and to close their eyes. Finally, the Baal Shem Tov closed the circle by putting his hands of the shoulders of the two students nearest to him.  Suddenly, the students shouted with fear: they saw the man who had just threatened the other actually tearing him off like a piece of fish! The Baal Shem Tov then took off his hands and the vision stopped.

The Baal Shem Tov explained: “Each of our actions, words and even thoughts has some kind of effect. Sometimes, the effect is concrete and visible to all. Sometimes, you need a more spiritual eye to see and the effect”.

Our words, good and bad, our blessings as well as our threats have a big power. Let’s use them carefully.

The worm in the whisky

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In a detoxification center, the speaker wanted to show how alcohol damages the body. He took a glass of whisky and put a worm inside, which melted because of the alcohol. Then he asked the attendance what they learned from this experiment. At first, there was silence in the room. No one wanted to say that this means that the use of alcohol is
destructive.  Then one person raised his hand and said: “This teaches us that whoever drinks whisky will not have worms in his stomach”.

Let’s not make the mistake of this man. Let’s not focus our attention on insignificant things. We need to face reality even if this forces us to changes our habits.


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Once, some people came to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad, with a question: “You always tell your students to pray for a long time while meditating on how great G-d is, how much He has done and continues to do. But we can see they just pretend to meditate, so there is no point in you encouraging this practice, since no one really does it”.

The Rabbi answered: “If you say that they pretend, then we are in a good direction. Because when someone pretends something continuously, at the end, something will go inside him and change him”.

No one should say: “Since I’m not doing it for real, there is no point in doing it”. The above story teaches us that whatever the reason we are doing it, it effects a change inside us.

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