Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Fiftieth Gate


Without telling his teacher anything of what he was doing, a disciple of rabbi Barukh’s [of Mezbizh] had inquired into the nature of God, and in his thinking had penetrated further and further until he was tangled in doubts, and what had been certain up to this time, became uncertain. When Rabbi Barukh noticed that the young man no longer came to him as usual, he went to the city where he lived, entered his room unexpectedly, and said to him: “I know what is hidden in your heart. You have passed through the fifty gates of reason. You begin with a question and think, and think up an answer – and the first gate opens, and to new question! And again you plumb it, find the solution, fling open the second gate – and look into a new question. On and on like this, deeper and deeper, until you have forced open the fiftieth gate. There you stare at a question whose answer no man has ever found, for if there were one who knew it, there would no longer be freedom of choice. But if you dare to probe still further, you plunge into the abyss.”

“So should I go back all the way, to the very beginning?” cried the disciple.

“If you turn, you will not be going back,” said Rabbi Barukh. “You will be standing beyond the last gate: you will stand in faith.”

(Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim)

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