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The Lamplighter

The Lamplighter


In 1907, Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch was staying in Würzburg, Germany, and a group of chassidim came to spend a Shabbat with the rebbe. Among them were Reb Yosef Yuzik Horowitz, his son-in-law Reb Feivel Zalmanov, and Reb Elimelech Stoptzer.

The rebbe prayed for many hours that Shabbat morning, as was his manner. In the meantime, the chassidim recited kiddush and consumed a quantity of l’chaims. Later, when the rebbe had finished and they sat with him to the Shabbat meal, Reb Yosef Yuzik asked:

“Rebbe, what is a chassid?”

Replied the rebbe: “A chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a pole. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight.”

Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: “What if the lamp is in a desert?”

“Then one must go and light it,” said the rebbe. “And when one lights a lamp in a desert, the desolation of the desert becomes visible. The barren wilderness will then be ashamed before the burning lamp.”

Continued the chassid: “What if the lamp is at sea?”

“Then one must undress, dive into the sea, and go light the lamp.”

“And this is a chassid?” Reb Yosef Yuzik asked.

For a long while the rebbe thought. Then he said: “Yes, this is a chassid.”

“But Rebbe, I do not see the lamps!”

Answered the rebbe: “That is because you are not a lamplighter.”

“How does one become a lamplighter?”

“First, you must reject the evil within yourself. Start with yourself: cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G‑d forbid, he sees coarseness; when a person is himself refined, he sees the refinement in others.”

Reb Yosef Yuzik then asked: “Is one to grab the other by the throat?”

Replied the rebbe: “By the throat, no; by the lapels, yes.”

Told by the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn; translation/adaptation by Yanki Tauber.
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1000 characters remaining Staff February 8, 2015

To Noa It's based on this one. Reply

Noa Los angeles February 4, 2015

Which hayom yom is this found in Reply

Anonymous October 14, 2013

Possible Answer The other I think is another Jew, one who a 'lamplighter' has come to ignite. The other is a lamp which is not yet lit - a Jew who has yet to become observant and 'aflame' with the light of Torah & mitzvos.

So the Rebbe tells him to bring him close or influence him not by grabbing him by the neck but by the lapels. Reply

Zalmy August 6, 2013

Don't get it Who was R' Yosef referring to, "Is one to grab the OTHER by the throat?"
Who is 'the other'? Reply

Anonymous pismo beach, California February 28, 2011

Mercy It seems the lamplighter is one that has received G-d's Mercy - the Light of G-d, and is extending that Light to others, one by one. Reply