The Maggid took his usual seat at the head of the table and began:

"I made the earth, and Man thereon I created. 1Anochi [Hebrew for I], He Who is the true I, unknown to and concealed from even the loftiest emanations, clothed His Essence through numerous condensations to give rise to emanations and creatures, the various categories of angels, and worlds without number. Through countless contractions 'I made this physical world and thereon created Man.' Man is the ultimate purpose of Creation. Barati [Hebrew for 'I have created'], the numerical equivalent2 of 613 [the number of Biblical commandments], is the raison d'etre of Man. As [the book of] Pardes (Portal 22, ch. 4) quotes Sefer HaBahir, 'Said the attribute of Chesed [Kindness] before the Holy One, 'Master of the Universe, since the days of Avraham I have had no work to do, because Avraham serves in my stead.' For Avraham, a soul clothed in a body, occupying himself with hospitality to strangers as a means of promulgating the idea of G‑d, is thus higher than the attribute of Chesed itself in its most sublime state in Atzilut. The 'complaint' of Chesed-is the expression of envy of Chesed of Atzilut of the service of our Patriarch Abraham."

Concluding his words, the Maggid retired to his quarters. His brief discourse had a calming, reviving effect on his disciples.

I witnessed two things then, remarked the Alter Rebbe, The holy ecstasy of the chasidic fraternity, and the remark?able composure of the Maggid, which captivated my entire being. It was then that I became a Chasid.

On Monday, Elul 13, 5652 (1892), during the wedding celebration of my uncle Rabbi Moshe HaCohen3, my father, of sainted memory, retold this story and explained:

The [Alter] Rebbe, the Lithuanian genius, Talmudist, philosopher and Kabbalist, became a Chasid not because of the ecstasy over heavenly angels, but because of the intellectual composure of the Maggid of Mezritch.

The Rebbe assimilated the profound concept that the highest attribute of Chesed envies a man who acts hospitably for G‑d?s sake. To the principle that every Jew must serve G‑d with his maximum of understanding, the Alter Rebbe devoted his life.