On The Road To Karlin


THIS TALE COMES FROM LOUIS Newman’s 1963 “Hasidic Anthology,” a thick collection of stories, teachings and parables of the Hasidim, which is Hebrew for “pietist” but in this context refers to the 18th century Jewish ecstatics whose infectious enthusiasm rang through Eastern Europe to echo today; for example, in the following story: where a Hasid, or seeker-after-God, encounters a Rav, or rabbinic judge, on the way to finding the True Rabbi, or teacher, who in this particular case and for this particular seeker resided in the Belarusian town of Karlin. May we all find the True Rabbi, wherever we look.

A Hasid was on his way to visit the Karliner Rabbi. A Rav met him, and said: “Cannot you find a Rabbi nearer than Karlin?”

“No, I cannot,” answered the Hasid. “I read the thoughts of all the Rabbis, and I find them to be spurious.”

“If you read thoughts,” said the Rav, “then tell me what I am thinking now.”

“You are thinking of God,” answered the Hasid.

“No, your guess is incorrect; I am not thinking of God.”

“There you have it,” remarked the Hasid. “You yourself have stated the reason why I must go to Karlin.”

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