Playing G‑d

Upon the passing of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov in 1760, the center of Chassidic teaching shifted to the town of Mezheritch, home of the Baal Shem Tov’s successor, the famed “Maggid,” Rabbi DovBer.

Late one night, a group of the Maggid’s disciples were discussing the state of the universe. “If G‑d would entrust me with the running of His world,” said one, “I would gather all the gold in the world and give it to the Jewish people, so that they should be able to serve the Almighty free of all material cares.”

“If I were running the world,” said another, “I would heal all the sick and banish all pain and suffering from the face of the earth.”

“And I would eradicate the inclination for evil from the heart of man,” said a third. “Then we would have a world that befits the goodness and perfection of its Creator.”

The youngest of the Maggid’s disciples, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, then spoke. “If I were in G‑d’s place,” said he, “I would run the world exactly as He does.”