Addressed Personally, Monday Morning Parable

There is an ancient rabbinic legend about the disciples of a great rabbi, the Baal Shem Tov.  After evening prayers the rabbi would listen to all students who were seeking advice from him in a group setting.

One evening as the students left the room, one apologized to the others for monopolizing so much of the Baal Shem’s attention.  Throughout the entire audience, the master had spoken to him personally.  His friend to him not to talk such nonsense.  They had all entered the room together, and, from the beginning, the master had spoken only to him.  A third, hearing this, laughed and said they were both mistaken, for their teacher had carried on an intimate conversation with him alone for the entire evening.  A fourth and fifth made the same claim — the the Baal Shem had spoken to them personally, to the exclusion of everyone else.  Only then did they realize what had happened, and they all fell silent.

As Rabbi Kushner says, “So it is with us when we read the Scripture.  The biblical text speaks intimately and demands an intensely personal response.”

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