Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “To put himself in the other man’s place”

“There is a Chasidic story about Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev, who was a great champion of the common people, a lover of Israel.

One morning, looking out his window, he saw a poor Jew driving his horse and wagon through the muddy part of the road.

The driver was pulling hard on the reins and, at the same time, with phylacteries on arm and forehead, he was reciting his morning prayers.

“Lord of the Universe,” exclaimed Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, “see how devout your people are; even while driving their wagons through the mud of the world, they find it possible to pray to you!”

To another onlooker, this irreverent mode of prayer would probably have met with strong disapprobation; and Rabbi Levi Yitzchok himself would scarcely have considered reciting his prayers while doing something else, much less driving horses.

He was, nevertheless, able to put himself in the other man’s place, to transfer his point of view entirely to that of another person, another way of life.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz