The revered Rabbi Eizik of Homel, known affectionately as Reb Eizel, was once asked to arbitrate a dispute in Chernigov, a city in northern Ukraine. Wishing to avoid escalating the conflict, Reb Eizel requested a place on Chernigov’s outskirts, and he was offered accommodations near a post office.

Despite his efforts to maintain a low profile, word of Reb Eizel’s arrival traveled quickly, and the home where he was staying was soon crowded with eager chassidim, all waiting to hear chassidic teachings from the distinguished guest. Many of the guests brought food with them, and the table was soon piled high with fine delicacies.

As the assembled enjoyed the repast, they listened with rapt attention as Reb Eizel spoke. When Reb Eizel eventually finished his discourse, a group of scholarly chassidim left the room to review the rabbi’s words. The simple folk, however, remained seated, preferring to continue their meal.

Whether it was guilt stemming from his preference to remain seated or mere curiosity, the host turned to Reb Eizel to ask a question: “Didn’t we all hear and understand your words, and are we not all planning to review them later at home? Why then are these fellows so impatient to leave the room for a chance to review immediately? Can’t they wait?”

Reb Eizel listened but didn’t respond right away.

Some time later, a loud squeal of train brakes could be heard. One of the men there, the local postman, ran out to unload the mail from the train.

Reb Eizel immediately called to the host.

“See?” said the venerable rabbi. “We all heard the train. Some of us might even have turned our heads to see what had caused the noise. Yet, we remained indifferent. Only that man ran outside, because greeting the train is his concern and livelihood. So too with the men who left earlier. Studying and absorbing chassidic teachings is their life and primary concern. They therefore rushed out to attend to it before all else.”

Shemuot Vesippurim Vol. 2, page 173.