One day, the Besht (Baal Shem Tov) asked one of his senior students, Wolf Kitsis, to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) on Rosh Hashanah. And to make it easier for him to concentrate while performing this ritual, Besht advised him to study the Kabbalistic kavvanot associated with the shofar. Wolf Kitsis plunged headlong into the study, making numerous extracts in order to review them before the action itself and even more, therefore, to establish himself in a pious intention.
The day of the holiday came, and Wolf began to look for his notes, but they had disappeared to no one knows where. And this is not the worst: from excitement, he completely forgot everything he had read about. Not a single kavvan could be remembered. But there was nothing to be done – and, having appeared before the assembly, with an empty head and a contrite heart, he began to blow the shofar.
At the end of the davvenen (worship), Besht turned to the student and exclaimed:
— Yesher koach! Never before have I heard such inspiring sounds of the shofar!
– But, teacher, – Wolf Kitsis was amazed, – I forgot everything that I had learned the day before, and blew the shofar without a single kavvan in my head. Except with the humility of a man who knows that he knows nothing!
“My dear Wolf,” Besht said with a smile, “there are many chambers in the palaces of earthly kings, and each of them opens with its own key. But if a person has a simple ax, he will enter any room. If this happens with earthly kings, then even more so with the King of kings. Kavvanot are the keys to the chambers, but not a single door can resist a man with a humble heart.