It was a festive day in the narrow lanes of Frankfurt’s Jewish quarter. The crowds of well-wishers surged through the Judengasse, jubilantly singing and dancing as they carried a middle-aged man upon their shoulders.

The venerable newcomer was a Polish-born Torah scholar who had recently been invited to become the chief rabbi of the prestigious community.

The procession slowly wended its way to the main synagogue, where the sage was to give his first talk.

What was not known to many of the assembled was that their new rabbi, Rabbi Pinchas Hurwitz, was a follower of Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the leader of the emerging chassidic movement. One of the major tenets of the chassidic doctrine was the importance of humility.

“Tell me, Rabbi,” asked one of his close students, “what did it feel like to be carried through the streets by such a crowd of admirers?”

“At that moment,” said Rabbi Hurwitz, “I felt just as if I were dead, and the entire parade was my funeral.”

Shaar Hachassidut, p. 125