Wine is famous – or infamous – for breaking down barriers. And it can sometimes help someone see a truth that he might otherwise have missed.
Two drunks were having a heart-to-heart talk. One gushed to his friend, “My dear brother, you know I love you so much!”
“I don’t know that at all!” his drunken companion replied. “If you really love me, why don’t you show it? You know how down and out I am. Why don’t you come to see how much I suffer? How come you don’t do anything to help me in my misery?”
Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov heard this exchange and perceived the hidden truth within the wine-soaked speech. “I have always professed to love my fellow Jews with all my heart, yet I, too, have been derelict in this,” he thought. “If I really care for them, why aren’t I doing more for them?”
From that point onward, Rabbi Moshe Leib worked very hard to help his poor brothers. During the frigid Russian winter, he awoke at midnight to recite Tikkun Chatzot and then went out to the forest to chop wood. He would chop as much as the poor required. Only then would he return to the city and continue his Divine service.
“I learned from those two drunkards that if your caring doesn’t express itself in action, it is not real,” he said.
Rebbe Nachman made a similar point about emunah (faith): “The verse states about Moses that ‘his hands were emunah’ (Exodus 17:12). It is not enough to profess to have emunah in one’s heart. We need to act on our emunah. If it is genuine, our emunah will express itself in the world of action.”
As a wise man explained, “Imagine if a wealthy husband professes to love his wife and says he would do anything for her. She asks him to pick up a piece of jewelry for her. He never gets around to it. Will she really believe that his love is genuine? And if she asks for something simple, like picking up some groceries, and he just makes excuses, she knows for sure that his devotion isn’t real. The same is true in Godly terms. If you won’t act in even the smallest way on your professed convictions, what do they really mean?”
Based on Siach Sarfey Kodesh VI:565