Let My People Know

"The finer the needle, the more it pierces."


The author of the Tanya once found himself in a synagogue of mitnagdim ("opposers" of Hasidism), when he noticed a book lying under a bench. 

He picked it up and saw that it was a copy of Rabbi Elimelekh's work, Noam Elimelekh.

When asked to describe the author of that book, Rabbi Schneur Zalman said: "I'll tell you one thing about him: if you had thrown the author of this book under the bench, he too would not have uttered a word in protest." 

For despite his greatness, Rabbi Elimelekh regarded himself as the lowliest of the low. 

It is told that he would often go into the forest and sit on an anthill until the ants stopped biting him and would then cry: "Meilekh, Meilekh! See, even the ants no longer want to bite you!" 

He frequently cried, "I am the most wicked man in the world!" 

Once, one of his followers said to him: "Rebbe, whom are you trying to fool? You know that is not true!" 

Rabbi Elimelekh replied: "The finer the needle, the more it pierces." 

Even for the perfect tzaddik, there can be something that he will experience as a sin, and that can be so slight that someone else might not be aware of it, but the finer it is, the more piercing it is to the lofty soul. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Chapter 11 of Opening the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz