The Rabbi and the Monastery – a Hasidic story
For centuries, an impressive monastery stood on top of a hill overlooking the area. People came from far and wide, knocking on the monastery door. Farmers asking the monks to pray for a good harvest, young couples for sun on their wedding day and many young men wanting to join in as a monk.
Each monk had specialised in a certain topic and transferred their knowledge over generations of monks, thus creating strong pillars of wisdom. People in the area knew for which issue to go to which monk and they were a source of support and inspiration to all.
But after a while, something started to change. The monks couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment but less and less people started knocking on their doors. Less farmers, less young couples, less young men. And slowly the monastery fell silent.
Some of the monks knew who was at the root of this. They looked at one another and thought, “He talks too much. He babbles on and on. Nobody ever knows what he is talking about. It chases people away.”. Or “He talks too little. He just sits there! It is uncomfortable for the people. Nobody likes that. It’s his fault!”. Or “He changes his mind constantly. One time he says this, then something else. He’s unreliable. People don’t like that. That’s why they stay away.”.
The head of the monastery, the Prior, was very worried and at his wits end.
One day the Prior decided to leave the monastery, walk down the hill and knock on a wise Rabbi’s door, who lived in the valley down below. The Rabbi opened his door, let the Prior in, offered him a chair and tea and listened to the Prior’s problem with care. Then the Rabbi said, “My heart goes out to you. It must be devastating for you and your monks. But I also do not know what to do.”. It wasn’t the answer the Prior had hoped for and he got ready to leave again.
Then the Rabbi said, “Oh, just one more little thing; someone told me – I forget who – that one of your monks is supposed to be the new Messiah.”.
“What!?!… One of us?”. “Yes.”, the Rabbi said. “…Who?”. “I don’t know.” he replied.
Completely confused, the Prior went back up the hill. Once arrived there, his fellow Brothers asked, “And? What did the dear Rabbi say?”. “He said that one of us is the new Messiah.”. “What?! One of us?! Who?”, the monks asked. “He said didn’t know.” the Prior answered.
And in spite of the fact that they didn’t know, they all started looking for the new Messiah within the monastery walls, within their fellow Brothers. “He can talk to anyone. He eases people and knows how to connect socially. That might be a true Messiah quality; maybe it’s him?!”. “He is such a good listener. Whenever I am troubled, he just listens and makes me feel heard. That’s what a Messiah does. Maybe he’s the one?!”. “He is so flexible; never stuck in just one idea or way. He adjusts to any situation. Surely he could be the Messiah!”.
The new Messiah was never found; however profoundly they searched for Him. But they did started to look at each other with new eyes. And slowly things started to turn around…