When Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch was a young man, he lived in the same house as his father, Rabbi Schneur Zalman. R’ DovBer and his family lived in the ground floor apartment, and his father R’ Schneur Zalman and mother Sterna lived on the second floor.
One night, while R’ DovBer was deeply engrossed in meditation, his youngest child fell out of his cradle.
R’ DovBer heard nothing. But his father, R’ Schneur Zalman, who was also immersed in study in his room on the second floor, heard the infant's cries. The Rebbe came downstairs, lifted the infant from the floor, soothed his tears, replaced him in the cradle, and rocked him to sleep.
The father said to his son, “ if you are studying so intensely that you can’t hear your own child crying, than you are not meditating.”
Adapted by R' Mark Novak, from versions told by R’ David Ingber in a drash on Parshat Mishpatim (here) and R' Yanki Tauber. Rabbi Tauber's version extracts further meaning from Deuteronomy 22:1-3, which ends with the words
לא תוכל להתעלם (lo tu'chal l'hit'a'leym)
you must not hide yourself.
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Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and