The Baker and the Beggar

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The Baker and the Beggar

Yehuda Yeshurun
May 24, 2021
Like 22 Comments 4 Share

The kabbalists explain that there are three ways to connect and draw Light from righteous souls who have left this world: visiting their resting place, reading from their words of wisdom, or reading stories about them. With each story read we not only draw from the Light that these righteous souls revealed, but also the gift of the lesson taught by that kabbalist.

Hundreds of years ago in Safed there lived a destitute beggar at the end of his rope and a busy baker who felt separated from the Creator. From morning to night, the beggar would try to collect money for food and shelter, barely scraping by. Hours before dawn, the baker would work to provide freshly baked goods, leaving him too tired at the end of the day to pray and connect.

One Friday afternoon before Shabbat, the baker took two loaves of bread and brought them to the War Room. He opened the Ark and prayed.

“Creator of the world! You know how busy I am. I work all waking hours to support my family and have no time to study or pray. But I know You placed a divine spark within my soul, and I want to connect to You and give something back. I baked these two loaves of bread, and if you accept them, I will know that I can connect to You through my baking. I will put all my love and joy into my baking and through this share of Your light with others.”

The baker left, holding on to the hope in his heart that his prayer would be accepted.

Having gone hungry for days and losing hope, the beggar walked into the War Room mere moments after the baker had left. He knelt beside the Ark and prayed.

“Creator of the world! I am losing hope. I know there is a reason why I am going through this challenge, but I cannot do it alone. I am begging for Your help. Please provide me some food, for without it, I will die. I am not ready to leave this world, I have much love to share, and I will give it freely. Please, please help me.”

The beggar then opened the Ark, and to his amazement, there were two loaves of bread inside! They smelled as if they had just come out of the oven, freshly delivered by the hand of God. So happy was the beggar that he jumped for joy, thanking the Creator profusely.

After the evening Shabbat connection that night, the baker stayed behind to check if his prayer and bread were accepted. He braced himself for disappointment as he opened the Ark and was overjoyed to see the loaves of bread had gone! The Creator understood his plea and accepted his prayer! The entire Shabbat, he could be found dancing and singing with his family and friends. So much joy filled the city of Safed that week.

The following week, the baker came back to give another gift to the Creator. I hope You accept my gift this week, too, he thought as he walked away.

Moments later, the beggar returned. The loaves of bread from the Creator miraculously had kept him full and satisfied for the entire week! But now, he was hungry again and needed the Creator’s support. He pleaded with the Creator to show him mercy once more, and upon opening the Ark and finding two more freshly baked loaves, he jumped with delight.

This went on for 20 years, and in all this time, not once had the baker and beggar ever crossed paths on the way to their weekly Friday miracles. One week, the caretaker of the War Room was napping when he heard the commotion from the baker. He watched unseen as the baker left his loaves of bread and as the beggar came in moments later to pick them up “from the Creator.”

This is awful, thought the caretaker. Not only are they putting food in the Holy Ark, but this nonsense is just silly. I will introduce them to each other so they can cut out the middleman and simply share one to another.

The following week he stopped the baker and told him to wait. Sure enough, the beggar showed up. The caretaker explained to them what was going on.

“The Creator isn’t accepting your bread,” he said to the baker, “and the Creator isn’t baking you food,” he said to the beggar. “You have both just kept missing each other by a few moments all this time. Why don’t you just help each other instead of making a mess of the Ark every week?”

The baker and beggar walked away from this exchange disheartened. So all these years, it wasn’t even the Creator who had helped them? It was simply a coincidence. It didn’t mean they were connected to the Creator after all. The magic was gone, and so was their certainty.

The caretaker had trouble sleeping that night. Rav Isaac Luria appeared to him in a dream with a distressing message.

“For twenty years, there was so much joy in the Upper Worlds at the simplicity and connection that the baker and beggar had. At their certainty. They brought so much love to the people around them. How could you tell them it was all a coincidence? Who do you think arranged, week after week for twenty years, for these two never to cross paths, if not the Creator? A great Light in the world has now been extinguished. Who will reveal it now?”

Not all stories have happy endings, but there is a valuable lesson to learn from Rav Isaac Luria here. The Creator is in everything and everyone. From the smallest of ants to the largest of whales and from the wildest coincidences to the most planned events. Most importantly, inside of us is a home for the Creator. Like the beggar and the baker in their greatest time of need, we must remember that the Creator is already inside of us and waiting for us to open the door.

May the merit of Rav Isaac Luria open our eyes to see the Creator in every moment, situation, person, and coincidence.

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