The Blind Angel – An Hasidic Tale
The Blind Angel, is a tale of Jewish mysticism from Nineteenth-Century Eastern Europe. Hasidic Judaism, from the Hebrew: חסידות—Ḥasidut (IPA: [χɑsidus]) in Ashkenazi Hebrew, literally “loving kindness,” is a branch that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith.
Among the Hasidim of Reb Mordecai of Chernobyl was Rabbi Eliakim, a merchant of great wealth and a collector of rare and precious religious objects. So wealthy was Reb Eliakim that he even owned his own scroll of the Torah, which was prominently displayed in an Ark that had been built into one wall of his living room.
Once Reb Mordecai came to pay him a visit, and Reb Eliakim was beside himself with joy, proudly showing off his precious objects to his rabbi. And each time Reb Mordecai seemed pleased by a particular object, Reb Eliakim had it wrapped and placed in a crate for the rabbi to take back with him.
Before long the crate was almost filled with silver goblets, embroidered matzah and challah covers, and other precious treasures of Reb Eliakim, and at last the rabbi rose to take his leave, thanking Reb Eliakim for his generosity. At that moment the rabbi's eye fell on a beautiful antique silver menorah, which was one of Reb Eliakim's most prized possessions. For a long time the rabbi stared at that menorah, and Reb Eliakim and everyone else clearly saw that he desired it, yet Reb Eliakim could not bring himself to offer it, for it was a priceless heirloom.
Finally it was the Rabbi of Chernobyl who broke the silence, asking, as a special favor, for the silver menorah. Everyone watched Reb Eliakim closely, for they knew how much he prized that menorah, and they saw that he was struggling with himself. At last Reb Eliakim ordered his servant to wrap the menorah, place it with the other gifts, and carry the crate to the rabbi's carriage.
When they returned home, the rabbi had the crate opened, and displayed all of the gifts he had received from Reb Eliakim except for the silver menorah, which was kept in storage. His Hasidim did not under-stand why he had asked for it or why he did not display it, but they dared not question the rabbi.
Time passed, and Reb Eliakim took his leave of this world, and eventually the episode of the silver menorah was forgotten. Ten years later, on the eve of Hanukah, Reb Mordecai had the menorah brought out of storage and prepared for lighting. As the flames burned brightly, reflected in the polished silver of the menorah, Reb Mordecai told his Hasidim a tale.
“This menorah once belonged to Reb Yosef David, who was a rich man for most of his life but then fell upon hard times. Reb Eliakim desired this menorah for many years and often tried to purchase it, but no matter how much he offered, Reb Yosef David refused to sell it, for this menorah had been in his family for many generations. However, when his situation grew desperate, Reb Yosef David went to Reb Eliakim for a loan. Reb Eliakim agreed to give him a generous loan, with the silver menorah to serve as security. But when the loan was due, Reb Yosef David could not repay it, and thus he had to relinquish the menorah to Reb Eliakim.
“Now, as we know from Reb Pinhas of Koretz, every good deed creates an angel. But if a deed is imperfect, it produces an imperfect angel. In giving Reb Yosef David a loan, Reb Eliakim did a good deed, and therefore an angel came into being. However, because his intentions were not completely pure, Reb Eliakim's angel was blind.
“After his death, Reb Eliakim was brought before the heavenly court. His good deeds and bad deeds were weighed, and they balanced exactly. All at once the blind angel took its place on the right side of the scale, and it tipped in Reb Eliakim's favor. Seeing this, the heavenly court ruled that Reb Eliakim might be permitted to enter Paradise, but since his margin was so narrow, he would have to be led there by the blind angel.
“Ever since, Reb Eliakim and the blind angel have wandered, and his soul has found no rest. For the blind angel could not find the way to Paradise. And without some special merit, he would have remained a wandering soul for many years to come. But tonight the light of this menorah reached all the way to the upper world, restoring the angel's sight. Now, at last, the angel has been able to lead the soul of Reb Eliakim to his resting place in Paradise.
“Now you know why, long ago, I asked Reb Eliakim for his menorah. For it was the merit of this gift that he needed in order to repair the eyesight of the angel. I never used it until now, as I was waiting for the right moment. Last night, I saw Reb Eliakim, led by the blind angel, in a dream. From this I knew that they were close, and tonight, as the flames ascended, that they were passing over. And now Reb Eliakim is basking in the sacred light of Paradise.”
This story is from the book “Gabriel's Palace,” by Howard Schwartz.
The Blind Angel was republished by The Summit Lighthouse in the Pearls of Wisdom® vol 37 no 10 and read during the Sunday Service broadcast on March 4, 2012. The Internet broadcast is available for Keepers of the Flame® Fraternity members.
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