Rabbi Aryeh Leib Heller, the author of Ketzot Hachoshen, was an opponent of Chassidism. In his hometown, Staria, lived a great number of chassidim of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok, the "Seer" of Lublin. Unfortunately, there was no great love lost between the two sides, and some of the chassidim did not show him the respect that is due to the local rabbinic authority.

The rabbi, for his part, was in the habit of reproving these nonconformist townsfolk for their Chassidic customs, which he held to be not in full accordance with the dictates of the Code of Jewish Law. They, of course, ignored him, and he, of course, felt it was improper that his rulings should be ignored. Eventually he pronounced a shamta, a ban of temporary excommunication, on them, which was to last thirty days.

Obedient to this, the bulk of the local population promptly severed all contact with them. The chassidim put their heads together, and decided to set out for Lublin, there to spend the few weeks in the heartwarming company of their rebbe, until with the passage of time they would find themselves a little less unwelcome in their own hometown.

The custom in Lublin was that his attendant would bring the rebbe a list of all the recent arrivals who were waiting to be greeted by him; the rebbe would then indicate who was to be invited to enter his study for a private audience. When the group from Staria arrived, the Chozeh told the attendant that they would have to wait to receive their greeting for two weeks and so-and-so many days — exactly as long as it would take for the rabbinical ban to expire.

When the time finally passed, they came together to speak to the Seer, who said: "We read in the Torah that the Almighty rebukes Aharon and Miriam with the question, 'Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moshe?' Since it appears to be repetitious to write both "my servant" and "Moshe", Rashi comments; "Against My servant — even if he were not Moshe; against Moshe — even if he were not My servant.' Now the first half of this comment is understandable. But such a Moshe who is not 'My servant' — why should one stand in awe of him?

"And the answer is as follows. The House of Israel is made up of two categories of people: those whose main concern is to be expert and punctilious as regards every word in the Code of Jewish Law, and those whose first love is to cleave to G‑d in devoted attachment, serving Him not only in prayer, but also — as is explained at length in 'Duties of the Heart' — in the manner of their walking and sitting, lying down and rising, their eating and their drinking.

"This then, is what Rashi means. One is commanded to stand in awe of Moshe — the great legalistic scholar — even if he is not 'My servant' in the sense of having unceasing communion with G‑d; likewise in awe of 'My servant' — who delves rather into the mysteries of the Torah, in order to draw closer to his Maker — even though he may not be a Moshe in his mastery of the legalistic side of the Torah. Both are to be held in awe.

"And if this be the case, consider now the rabbinical judge of your town, who is a veritable pillar of the revealed Law. Why were you not afraid to speak against him?"

Adapted from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.

Biographical note:
R. Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745 - 9 Av 1815), known as "the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin", was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787), and leader of the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many of his insights were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

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