A Knife Wielding Rabbi?

Friday, 2 August, 2013 - 6:43 pm

Knife wielding.jpg 

Standing silently while sharpening his large knife, he was a formidable presence. Looking up with horror, the traveling Magid (Jewish preacher of yesteryear) began to tremble. “W..what do you want from me?”  he stuttered.

“Your words have inspired us to repent. You caused the community to be overwhelmed with remorse for their sins. Everyone is now crying bitterly over their transgressions,” replied the man. His name was Rab Shmuel Munkes, a chassid, and he never looked quite as menacing as he did now brandishing that large, sharp blade.

“So why the knife?” wondered the bewildered Magid.

“I was taught that praying at the gravesite of a righteous man is a sure way to obtain forgiveness from G-d,” replied Reb Shmuel, still firmly holding the knife which by now was sharp and ready for use. “ We have no such grave nearby and it’s rare that such a righteous man as yourself visits this area.”

Slowly it dawned on the Magid. “This man wants to kill me!” he thought with alarm. “B…but, but I’m not so righteous!” he cried out. “I have impure thoughts and I occasionally sin. I’m not the righteous man that you seek!”

“You’re more than righteous enough for us,” Reb Shmuel was now closer than before and the Magid felt his blood run cold.

“No, you truly don’t understand,” the Magid was crying now, “I lie and I cheat... I have stolen money and caused people harm… I’m really not righteous at all – you will not gain a grave of a righteous man by killing me!”

Reb Shmuel put down the knife and leaned in close to the poor Magid’s face. “If you’re actions are as you describe, what gives you the right to cause so many beautiful and righteous Jews so much heartache. Your speech earlier brought them to tears of remorse while in reality you are the real sinner!”

Needless to say, the Magid learned an important lesson that day. He soon adopted a new profession and was not found again preaching repentance to other people.


The question is how did Reb Shmuel Munkes know that this Magid was insincere? How did Reb Shmuel know with such certainty that he was a fraud?

Reb Shmuel knew that someone who was truly righteous would only see the positive in others. He would not berate them for their misdeeds; he would support and encourage their positive character traits and behaviors.

The same is true in our personal lives. So often, two people will experience similar mishaps or unplanned changes to their life, yet they will react and be affected in completely different ways.

Why? It’s all a matter of perspective. One whose attitude is negative will actually have a negative experience. One whose attitude is positive will actually have a positive experience.

Sounds unrealistic and simple? It is simple, yet profoundly true and real. 


I’m so passionate about this subject and there is a lot more to say on it, click here to see a short (unedited) webcast with more insight on this topic.

One important way to maintain a positive perspective in life is to constantly remind ourselves of the blessings we each have in our day to day lives. Click here for a short daily meditation to begin your day in a positive with a positive perspective.

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