A student in one of the Alter Rebbe's chedorim, 1 who was an exceptionally gifted and profound thinker, was originally among the opponents of Chasidus and a scholar of renown before he joined the movement. When he arrived in Liozna2 he immersed himself in the study of Chasidus, and quickly amassed a tremendous knowledge. He habitually meditated for hours on end on some subject of Chasidus.

Parenthetically, it is related that once when he was in ill health, he intended to get a good night's sleep after the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet. 3 Before reciting the Shema at bedside, he washed his hands4 and stood near the window as he began his prayer. He stood there meditating until dawn. . . .

A cousin of this disciple related that in his first audience with the Alter Rebbe, the young man had asked, Rebbe, what do I lack?

The Alter Rebbe answered, You lack nothing. You are pious and a scholar. But you must rid yourself of the chametz, 5 self-awareness, and arrogance. You must instill within yourself matzah, renunciation of self. By law, a vessel used for chametz with fire can be made kosher for Passover use only by being subjected to heat intense enough to make sparks fly, or until the outer shell is removed.

Upon leaving the Rebbe's room the disciple remarked, The Rebbe taught me a Passover law6 as it is taught in Gan Eden (Paradise). 7 A vessel used with fire-a person so arrogant as to consider himself Light8itself, thereby repelling the Divine Presence-must be purified through fire, through such intense white heat that sparks fly. That is the sparks of G‑dliness within him and in the world around him, become elevated and united with the True Light. Thus the outer shell is removed. With this the Rebbe endowed me with the strength to fulfill in my divine service, the law of purification by fire. Thank G‑d, I will concentrate on this objective in my prayers, and I hope to G‑d that good results will follow.