The Dangers of Asceticism

A rich Hasid came to Rabbi Dov Baer and asked for his blessing. The rebbe started to engage him in conversation.

“I’m curious to learn how a man of your great wealth conducts his household,” the rebbe asked him. “For example, what do you eat every day?”

“Oh, we live very simply,” the man answered. “I myself eat nothing more than dry bread and salt.”

The rebbe became incensed. “Dry bread and salt are not sufficient for a man of your riches! You should be eating meat, wine, and fresh bread.” He continued chiding the rich man until he finally consented to eat tastier, more luxurious, food.

After he left, Dov Baer’s surprised disciples questioned him: “What does it matter to you if that man eats stale bread with salt or meat with wine?”

“It matters a great deal,” Dov Baer answered. “If he feasts on meat and wine, he will understand that the poor need at the very least stale bread with salt. But if he himself eats nothing more than stale bread with salt, he will imagine that the poor can satisfy themselves with stones.”

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Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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