Monasteries of the Heart

Give me a word Story 28

Once a famous doctor met one of his patients on the street. Without a word of greeting, the doctor said, “I told you not to walk on that leg until it heals.”

“But it IS healed,” said the man. “Impossible!” replied the doctor. “I saw the wound in that leg. It will take months.” The man explained, “I went to another kind of healer. I went to the mystical rabbi, the one they call the Baal Shem Tov.” The doctor narrowed his eyes, then simply walked away.

A week later, the doctor went to visit Baal Shem Tov. “I hear you claim to be a healer,” the doctor said. The Baal Shev looked at the man who had knocked on his door and said, “God is the healer, my friend. Come in.” The doctor then issued this challenge: “Let us examine each other. Whoever best diagnoses the sickness of the other will be proved the better doctor.” “The Baal Shem Tov agreed and the doctor began his examination. For an hour the doctor poked the rabbi, pinched him, gazed in his ears and tapped on his knees and then concluded, “You have no sickness that I can find.”

“I am not surprised that you could not find my pain,” said the Baal Shem Tov. “I so desire the presence of God that my heart cries out in pain when I cannot feel it. My sickness is this constant yearning for God.” The Baal Shem Tov looked at the doctor for a long while. “Let me now examine you.”

He took the doctor’s hands and for a long time gazed into his eyes. At last the rabbi said, “Have you ever lost something very valuable?” The doctor thought a moment and replied, “I once had a large jewel, but it was stolen from me.”

“Ah, that is your sickness,” said the Baal Shem Tov. “What? My missing diamond?” snickered the doctor. “No,” said the rabbi. My sickness is yearning after God. Your sickness is that you have forgotten that you ever had that desire.”

The doctor took a deep breath and, in a moment, a tear flowed down his cheek. One tear turned to many. Still holding the hands of Baal Shem Tov, he began to sob. “Please,” he said, “teach me how to yearn.”

“With God’s help,” said the Baal Shem Tov, “your healing has already begun.”

Discuss: The key to this story is that the Baal Shem Tov “took the doctor’s hands and for a long time gazed into his eyes.” In this healing you have human touch and deep listening and genuine presence and concern. Are or were there any Baal Shem Tov’s in your life? Or, do you have any quotes, poems or stories to share on spiritual “healing.”

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