Heart and Head.
Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sandz occasionally journeyed to pay his respects to the Chasidic Zaddik, Rabbi Israel of Ruzin, who was a mighty man of prayer, though by no means the equal of Rabbi Halberstam in scholarship.
Once when Rabbi Halberstam was on the way to Sadagora, where the great Zaddik lived, he was met by his colleague, Rabbi Joseph Nathanson of Lemberg, who, after mutual greetings, asked him:
“Rabbi, how does it come that you, a great and justly renowned scholar, are doing homage, as it were, to one of the Chasidic rabbis, as though he were a spiritual superior?”
“I will explain by asking you another question,” answered Rabbi Halberstam; “how does it come that the Holy Temple was built at Mount Moriah, and not at Mount Sinai?”
“I do not know,” answered the other, “why was it?”
“The answer is,” said the Rabbi, “that the service of the heart is, after all, more acceptable to God than the service of the head. At Mount Moriah, Abraham was willing to offer Isaac; and this service of the heart even excels the covenant of Sinai where the law was given, for the study of the law is a service of the head.”
I Am Only a Cap-Maker.
In old Krukadolifka (Russia) there lived a rabbi who used to fearlessly rebuke his people, although, of course, he never mentioned any names in his public speeches. But there was one very influencial member of his audience, a dignitary of the congregation, who always considered that the rabbi’s remarks were directed particularly at him. (Perhaps he had reasons to think so.) He therefore had a meeting of the communal officers called, where he made his “charges” against the rabbi, and it was agreed to send a committee to the rabbi to “instruct” him to refrain from abusing influential members of the community. When the committee called on the rabbi and stated their commission, he replied: “Gentlemen, I regard myself only as a cap-maker, one who makes caps not knowing beforehand who will wear them; but if one buys a cap, and it fits him, then by the Talmudic rule of yesh berera (i.e. ‘this, his choice, was his from the beginning), it is meant for him, from the time it is made.”
-From “As ‘Twas Told to Me“, by Rabbi S.M. Neches, 1926 CE