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Burning Ice

Burning Ice


The third Rebbe of Chabad, Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866), once said to his chassidim:

"The Baal Shem Tov1 loved light. So his disciples always made sure to light many candles whenever they expected their master.

"On one occasion, they had only a single candle and, despite their efforts, could not obtain any more. Knowing how much their master loved light, they were bitterly disappointed by their inability to provide the illumination he desired.

"When the Baal Shem Tov entered the room, he told his disciples to go outside and collect the icicles that hung from the roof. He then instructed them to arrange the 'ice candles' about the room and light them. The ice burned like wax, flooding the room with light."

Rabbi Menachem Mendel fell silent. Then, with a note of yearning in his voice, he said: "For the Baal Shem Tov's chassidim, ice burned and yielded light. Today's Chassidim sit in well-heated and well-lighted rooms, and yet it is cold and dark..."

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem, 1698-1760, founder of Chassidism
As told by Yanki Tauber.
Illustration by Chassidic artist Baruch Nachshon.
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Learn about the life and teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century mystic who permanently changed the Jewish landscape.
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