The Rebbe Rashab was once shown a painting.1

The painting, a field of wheat, had a pleasant ambiance: the sun shone brightly and a small bird stood on top of one of the wheat stalks. Many art experts were impressed by how brilliantly and realistically the scene had been captured by the artist.

A simple farmer who viewed the painting commented that it did indeed look real, except for the bird on the stalk. Although the bird was small, the weight of its body should have bent the stalk — and in the painting, the stalk stood as straight and tall as those surrounding it.

The Rebbe drew a valuable insight from this and related its profound lesson.

One’s Divine service can look beautiful and give the impression of being alive. However, if it is lacking the ability to “bend” — i.e., to be submissive to G‑d’s will — it ceases to be real. True goodness can only be achieved by transcending the limitations of one’s personal ego.

Sefer HaSichos 5696, p. 46