For many nights in a row, a classic Hasidic story goes, Reb Isaac Yeklish dreamed that there was treasure buried under a bridge near the king’s castle in Prague. So he traveled all the way from Krakow to Prague in the hopes of becoming rich. But alas, the bridge was guarded by soldiers day and night and it was impossible for him to dig under it.
Reb Yeklish loitered near the bridge for days, until the commander of the soldiers asked him what he was doing. Reb Yeklish told his story, and the soldier laughed. “Who travels so far for a dream? I myself have dreamt that there is treasure buried under the oven of a rabbi named Yeklish in Krakow. But you don’t see me foolishly dropping everything to follow this dream!”
Upon hearing this, Reb Yeklish rushed home. He immediately dug under his oven, and found a great treasure there.
Like many good Hasidic tales, this one can be read as a metaphor. Reb Yeklish represents the spiritual seeker who travels far to find enlightenment with a Hasidic rebbe–whose role here is played by the soldier in Prague.
The outcome of the story suggests that the true role of the rebbe–or of any guru, for that matter–is to give us spiritual seekers the tools to find enlightenment in our very own homes and lives.