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Anthony De Mello

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Dov Ber was an uncommon man. When people came into his presence they trembled. He was a Talmudic scholar of repute, inflexible, uncompressing in his doctrine. And he never laughed. He believed firmly in self-inflicted pain and was known to fast for days on end. Dov Ber’s austerities finally got the better of him. He fell seriously ill and there was nothing the doctors could do to cure him. As a final resort someone made a suggestion: “Why not seek the help of the Baal Shem Tov?” Dov Ber agreed even though at first he resisted the idea because he strongly disapproved of Baal Shem whom he considered to be something of a heretic. Also while Dov Ber believed that life was only made meaningful by suffering and tribulation, Baal Shem sought to alleviate pain and openly preached that it was the spirit of rejoicing that gave meaning to life. It was past midnight when Baal Shem answered the summons and drove up dressed in a coat of wool and a cap of the finest fur. He walked into the sick man’s room and handed him the Book of Splendour which Dov Ber opened and began to read aloud. He had hardly read for a minute when, so the story goes, Baal Shem interrupted. “Something is missing,” he said. “Something is lacking to your faith.” “And what is that?” the sick man asked. “Soul,” said the Baal Shern Tov. 🙂