“It was 5720 (1960) when we were commemorating 200 years from the Baal Shem Tov’s passing,” Reb Zelig Pesach Oritz recalls. “Reb Alter Metzger and I decided to present a seminar on the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings at a college campus, geared to graduate students.
“When I asked for the Rebbe’s permission, we got a green light. However, the Rebbe cautioned me that one must be careful how a story is told so that the moral is clear.
“And the Rebbe gave an example: There is a known story of the Baal Shem Tov on his travels, when the time for mincha had arrived and he had no water with which to wash his hands. The Baal Shem Tov got out of his carriage and suddenly in the middle of the woods a stream of water appeared.
“’Now,’ the Rebbe explained to me, ‘others would tell the story and marvel at the wonder. Our job is to expound upon the lesson – how important it is to wash one’s hands before davening.’”