In the 1960’s, Rabbi Nissan Mindel, close secretary of the Rebbe, often found himself traveling to various communities. The Rebbe urged him to utilize the opportunity and speak at the different shuls he would visit and thereby spread words of Chassidus. Reb Nissan, however, did not feel that this was a task he could embark on, especially since he did not know what material to convey and in what fashion to teach. The Rebbe assured him that the time Reb Nissan was privileged to spend in the presence of the Rebbe’s father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, would suffice for him to know what to convey to the public. Reb Nissan, however, insisted that the Rebbe personally guide him through the process.

The Rebbe quoted an incident from the past. A wagon driver in the times of the Mitteler Rebbe (or the Tzemach Tzedek) would travel on long journeys to raise money, but to no avail. He returned empty-handed. He lamented to the Mitteler Rebbe, “What shall I tell my wife? How do I explain my fruitless absence for so long?” The Mitteler Rebbe advised that he become a traveling maggid at once.1 In that position, he would be able to gather monetary gifts and donations. “Rebbe, I am not qualified!” the chassid replied.

The Mitteler Rebbe then told him, “You must act like a bee and not like a spider!” The wagon driver was still unsure of what to do. The Mitteler Rebbe explained the following Torah law: That which is produced by a non-kosher and impure animal is also unfit for use. However, the Mitteler Rebbe continued, in the case of a bee, the bee itself is unfit for consumption, yet its honey is allowed. Why?

“This is so because the bee formulates and creates its honey through its contact with the nectar atop the flowers. Its honey is not a bodily and physical product of its own. Therefore its honey is permissible. The spider, however, creates its web through its very own saliva.”

In conveying this story to Rabbi Nissan Mindel, the Rebbe concluded: “You are to be like the bee who gathers its honey from outside sources. You are to gather your Torah insights from reliable Torah and chassidic sources — not your own. If, however, you convey your own devised thoughts, you will be acting like a spider and you will be unsuccessful.”

The Rebbe added to Rabbi Mindel, “You certainly know from where to gather ‘nectar,’ and I am confident that your public deliveries will be absorbed by your listeners and received as sweet as honey!”

Kfar Chabad #1041, p. 100