We begin with a story repeated by a recent visitor to Sydney.

About 250 years ago in Vilna there lived a man known as the R’shash. He was not only a great Talmud Chachom and as such respected throughout Europe, but was also blessed with bountiful wealth.

He was continuously charitable and amongst his many works he established free loan funds for the poor.

One day a tailor presented himself to the R’shash and applied for a loan of 1000 rubles to meet a large order happily received.

Enquires revealed the tailor to be an honest man and the R’shash duly lent him the 1000 rubles for 90 days. The exercise was fruitful. The Tailor bought material, made the clothes, sold them for a good profit. Now possessed of the capital the good tailor sought out the R’shash to repay the debt two weeks prior to the due date.

The tailor went to the Beis Hamedresh (House of Study) of the R’shash and found him sitting amidst piles of books, learning. His concentration was so intense that, unknown to our hapless tailor he was oblivious to his presence. The tailor waited patiently for a break in the flow of the song of the learning. Finally, imagining the R’shash was now available, he handed him the neatly folded notes in repayment of the loan. Nodding and humming his learning, the R’shash took the money, and buried it in one of the volumes . He continued his studies totally unaware of what had transpired.

At the end of every month the R’shash checked the books of the various loan funds. He duly discovered the debt of the tailor imagined as yet unpaid. Accordingly, he sent a messenger to the debtor to remind him of his obligations. The tailor in consternation told the messenger of the repayment and asked him to remind the R’shash of his visit to the Bais Medrash and his deposit into the volume he was learning.

The R’shash, concluding that the tailor was not yet able to pay, waited another fortnight. He enquired of the tailor’s position and learned that the tailor had made money with the loan. He called upon him personally. Then, as might be expected, there ensued a heated exchange; the tailor indignant, the R’shash outraged at his perceived violation.

With no resource left to him, The R’shash finally called the tailor to a Beis Din. Now, unlike present Western legal systems where in civil cases disputes are determined on a balance of probabilities, in Halacha (Jewish law) there can be no finding of guilt without witnesses. Where there are no witnesses the accused is asked to swear on the Torah that the money was repaid and upon swearing, he is absolved of any obligation to repay.

Indeed this is what duly took place. The tailor swore and was absolved.

The R’shash of course accepted the determination but made it known that in his opinion the tailor was indubitably a thief and a liar. Word quickly spread of how the great Talmud Chocham had been cheated by a tailor.

As a result, the tailor became steadily ostracized and was soon therefore without business. His wife was spat upon in the marketplace and his children vilified in school. In desperation the tailor and his family left Vilna. In a new location, bereft of business and unable to obtain employment, the family soon became destitute.

A few years later when the R’shash was learning from the same volume, he came across the money secreted amongst the pages. In shock, he realized the enormity of the injustice perpetrated to the tailor. He immediately hired a wagon to take him to find and to compensate the poor and honest man.

Finally uncovering his whereabouts, he met and begged his forgiveness. The tailor refused. Filled with pain and anger, the tailor scorned forgiveness of the man who had caused the bankruptcy, loneliness and shame of his entire family.

Guilt stricken the R’shash returned to Vilna. He called his congregants together and made it known that he would make a special announcement in his shul on Shabbos. Everybody was requested to be there. On Shabbos in the synagogue packed with people, the R’shash instead of delivering his weekly sermon, announced his mistake and instructed the community to rectify the wrong perpetuated to the tailor.

Sadly though predictably, no one believed him. Since he was a great man, they reasoned, in his goodness the R’shash wanted to help the lying thief. The result was that the R’shash was held in greater esteem than ever while the tailor was held in even more passionate contempt.

The R’shash returned to the tailor begging him to particularize his misfortune and so allow a method to make amends.

Finally, in tears, the tailor articulated the cruelest result; the inability of his eldest daughter to marry. Of all his miseries it was this which most caused pain and suffering to the good couple.

The R’shash seized upon an idea.

He had a son of marriageable age. The children should meet. If the pair responded positively, they would be married. Everyone in Vilna would then believe in the bona fides of the terrible mistake and the good name of the tailor would be restored. After all, not even the R’shash would compromise a beloved son in wedlock with the daughter of a liar and a thief!

The tailor agreed. The daughter and the son met, the marriage took place and soon the position of the tailor was restored in full culminating with the family moving back to Vilna.

Needless to say the marriage was a happy one blessed with many children and grandchildren of learning and good deeds.

Now, although it is nice to have a happy ending to a story, its purpose is more urgent and vital. This story, together with an allegory soon to be mentioned, will become the basis of understanding some of the deepest secrets of Torah, and therefore creation.

Hopefully upon completion the reader will become aware of the tides of energy, which govern his life; one a series of forces from the outside, and one a series of forces from within.

The story on its own is a mere story and understood as little as we understand life’s apparently random vicissitudes. But with the spectacles of Chassidus one gains entry to the soul within the story and one begins to realize the following.

Forces of Divine Providence needed to be harnessed to bring together two souls destined for union with each other; here, the soul of the daughter of the tailor and the soul of the son of the R’shas. Could there ever be a way that the son of the one of the greatest men of his generation would marry a lowly tailor’s daughter? In a time where the socio-economic life of Jews demanded equality in learning or wealth, what chance did this girl have of fulfilling her destiny as the mate of this particular young man and the mother of their subsequent generations? The story supplies the answer and illustrates many of the steps to be addressed in this book as we progress. Meanwhile the first and foremost of these is that a marriage is the joining of not only two bodies but two halves of a soul.1 That conjunction is deep, precious and purposeful. What the partners do with this potential depends on their understanding of the pages to follow....