Bringing down the light
“Imagine if I mamish believed that I should walk the streets all day, every day and give out gifts to everyone I see. I could do it, but I would have to stop doing everything else. I’d have to leave my wife and children and just walk around the streets distributing gifts. It’s a very holy thought, but I’ll end up going crazy. So instead I think to myself, “No, I can’t do that, because I have a job and I need to support my family”. So I abandon the gifts distribution idea. Either way is bad…either way is bad. You see, the world doesn’t yet know the secret of light and vessels. Either they have small vessels with not enough light, like the thought of abandoning the gift idea, or they have too much light and no vessels to contain it, like the idea of 24 hour gift distribution. The Baal Shem Tov would bless people that ‘your body should be strong enough for your soul’. Everybody can make their soul shine but what about the body?” (Adapted from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach)
So how do we contain the light? Rebbe Nachman says (Torah 56) that the words of Torah are the greatest vessels to hold the light. In the most infinite, miraculous and immeasurable way, Hashem shined the light we need into those little black letters. A real holy teaching isn’t something that makes you crazy. A real holy teaching makes your light deeper and your vessels stronger. Similarly, the holiness of Jerusalem, says Shlomo, isn’t that there is no light anywhere else. The whole world is full of light. Jerusalem is the perfect vessel to contain this holy light.
It’s rare, but when you witness someone who has the-light-and-the-vessels-thing goin’ on, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. That’s the type of person who’s really bringing down the light.