A future chassidic master was once found playing a peculiar game with his older brother at the tender age of five. The older brother acted the role of rabbi and the chassiddic-master-to-be acted as his disciple. The game they played included a fascinating exchange between the pretend rabbi and disciple.
“Rabbi, what is a Jew?” the “disciple” asked.
“A Jew is fire,” the “rabbi” replied.
“So why am I not burned when I touch you?” he persisted.
“Because fire does not burn fire,” the “rabbi” replied.
Every day we have chances to impact someone’s life, to serve, to comfort, to listen, to smile. How often do we simply fail to notice what is in front of us? How often do we not see the fiery souls of our friends and acquaintances, yearning for support and guidance? How often do we proclaim that the barriers of our world are beyond our capacity to overcome? How often do we say there is no one in front of our eyes whom we can attend to and help?
There’s a line in a song by Leonard Cohen that has forever stayed with me. It inspired me in some bleak moments of my life, when I thought, as we all sometimes do, that there was no way goodness could spring forth.
“Forget your perfect offering,” Cohen suggests. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Let us ensure that our inner light, the fire of our soul, never ceases to shine upon us and upon our surroundings. The cracks of life will then undoubtedly melt away.
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a popular educator, lecturer and author of many essays and articles on Judaism and social analysis.