The Jewish Spirit Journal
A Journal of Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality
Vol. 1, No. 1 Dec. 1998

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

    Wayfarers and Pathgoers

    Once, the rebbe, Rabbi Simha Bunim of Pshis'cha, was taking a stroll outside the city with his student, the Kotzker Rebbe. Suddenly, pouring rain came down, spoiling their walk. Rebbe Bunim prayed for the rain to stop.

    The Kotzker asked him, "Doesn't it say in the Gemara (Yoma 53): 'Let the prayer of wayfarers not enter, etc.'? [The High Priest prayed that God not answer the prayers of wayfarers for it not to rain, because the farmers needed rain.]

    Rebbe Bunim replied, "There's a difference between 'wayfarers' [ovrei drachim] and 'pathgoers' [holchei drachim]. Wayfarers are people who fare (travel) from place to place. Since they need to pass from one place to another, the way itself doesn't interest them; what interests them is the destination they want to reach. If they could fly there in the air, they'd fly.

    People like this are called 'wayfarers.' 'Pathgoers,' however, are different. They're interested in the way itself. the path itself is their 'destination.' Each and every step on the path is important to them. The Gemara was not speaking about this category of people [when it said their prayers should not be heard]. And we, concluded Rebbe Bunim, "are in the category of 'pathgoers.' Therefore, if we're bothered by the pouring rain, we can pray that it cease."

    Questions and Answers

    Readers are invited to send in questions, particularly those of a spiritual nature, to Maggid Yitzhak Buxbaum, who will do his best to answer them. If permission is given, questions and answers of general relevance will be included in the newsletter. If you send in a question, please indicate if you would like it to remain confidential or if it may be publicized, and if so, with or without your name (and e-mail address, to receive additional responses from subscribers to the list).

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