Torah is not merely the 'written' text of the Five Books of Moshe Torah is the meaning enshrined within the text as expounded and unfolded by successive generations of Sages and Teachers among Klal Yisra'el [Hertz Siddur, 1948, p. 356]
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When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $1.2 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 Celsius.
Confronted with the same problem the Israelis' used a pencil...
"Pharoh said to Yosef, "I've had a dream, but there is no-one to interpret it. But, I've heard it is said about you with certainty that you listen to a dream, (understand it, and are able to) interpet it." Bereishit 41:15
And then there was the time that there lived an extremely hospitable man, Reb Yankel, who greatly enjoyed providing comfortable lodgings and delicious meals to the poor people passing through his village. If that wasn't enough, he also sent his guest away with a generous amount of money to help them on their way. Unfortunately, Reb Yankel had one glaring character flaw. That is, he would always applaud himself for his generosity and ask others, "Wasn't that great of me?"
Word of Reb Yankel's great generosity and also his boastfulness reached the Baal Shem Tov. Realizing that Reb Yankel's conceit greatly reduced the worthiness of the wonderful mitzvah of honoring guests, the Baal Shem Tov sent his student Reb Zev Kotses on a mission to rectify the situation.
"Reb Zev," said the Baal Shem Tov, "just go to Reb Yankel's and act as if you are a wandering beggar. Accept his hospitality and the right thing will happen. And if he wishes, please bring him to me.
Just before Shabbos, Reb Zev wandered into Reb Yankel's little village. It wasn't too long before he was provided comfortable lodging and hospitality for Shabbos at Reb Yankel's home.
After Reb Zev was settled, Reb Yankel inquired, "Don't you think I'm a remarkable host?"
Reb Zev answered, "We'll see."
After a delicious Shabbos meal, with plenty of L'Chaims (drinks of alcohol), talks of Torah and singing, all of the guests went to sleep in a large room set aside for that purpose. Reb Yankel had the custom of sleeping in the room among his guests. After Reb Yankel had fallen asleep, Reb Zev reached over and touched his hand.
Just then, Reb Yankel had an intense dream. In the dream, a King came to visit him. He treated the King with his usual generosity. While they were eating and talking, the King suddenly slumped over and died. The King's attendants grabbed Reb Yankel and locked him in the King's prison on the charge of poisoning the King.
The situation looked bleak, when suddenly a fire broke out in the prison and Reb Yankel escaped. He traveled for many days and finally ended up in a remote village where he became the water carrier. Being that this village had many wells and several streams, Reb Yankel could barely make a living. Then one day, he fell while carrying two pales of water across his back. He broke both of his legs and was in such intense pain that he couldn't move. Suddenly, he remembered how he had once been a rich man and began to cry.
Just then, Reb Yankel awoke with a start. When he realized he was safe and comfortable in his own bed, he nearly fainted. When he saw Reb Zev staring in his eyes, he blurted out, "Oh my Heavens! I just had such a vivid, scary dream."
Reb Zev said, "If you want to, tell me about it."
After Reb Yankel told him the entire dream, he asked, "What do you think it means?"
Reb Zev answered, "I'm not sure, but I think my rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov could interpret it for you."
So as soon as Shabbos was over, they traveled together to Medzibush.
Reb Yankel met the Baal Shem Tov and told him all the details of his dream. When Reb Yankel asked for an interpretation, the Baal Shem Tov explained, "When G·d comes to you in the form of guest, He can't remain in your presence because of your pride. So He allows His servants to threaten and punish you. But before anything really bad happens, He allows you to escape because of the merit of your mitzvah of hospitality. Nevertheless, because of your conceit, spiritually you are like an extremely poor, suffering man."
When the Baal Shem Tov finished, Reb Yankel cried out, "Oh Rebbe, please help me!"
With the help and instruction from the Baal Shem Tov, Reb Yankel was aroused to repent. He returned to his home free of his pride and he continued to do the great mitzvah of hospitality.
And so it was.
-Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn, Patent Attorney) from a story in HISGALUS TZADIKIM as translated in STORES OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV by Y. Y. Klapholtz.
Torah - It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are shalom. Lengthy days are at its right; at its left are wealth and honor. HaShem desired, for the sake of Yisrael's righteousness, that the Torah be made great and glorious.