A rebbe was asked to come teach in a distant village. Having no rabbi of their own, the community was very excited and each person prepared for the rabbi's visit by pondering what question he or she might ask him.
Upon his arrival the community welcomed the rabbe warmly, first with a simple meal and then escorting him to his room where he could rest after his long journey. Refreshed from his nap, he was then taken to the large community room where people had gathered excitedly to ask their questions. The room buzzed with anticipation.
Upon entering the rabbe began to walk around the room, making eye contact with each person present. He then began to sing a sweet, contemplative Hasidic melody.
"Yai dai dai...yai dai dai...yai dai dai dum."
As he sang, he walked slowly, purposefully, continuing to make eye contact, with one person, and then another, until one person, and then another, joined him in the niggun...
"Yai dai dai...yai dai dai...yai dai dai dum..."
...until everyone was singing with him, sweetly and contemplatively.
The rebbe began to sing a little bit faster, and the people followed his lead. As he picked up the tempo, he picked up his feet, and started to dance, arms spread wide, his entire body bouncing in step with the melody. The people were caught up unawares, and in the joy of the moment, found themselves dancing and singing alone/together.
Then without notice, the rabbe's dance gradually began to slow, and with it the song as well, until it reached a gentle end. Some people smiled, while others wiped tears from their cheeks.
The rebbe cast his eyes about the room, and gently said, “I trust that I have answered all of your questions.”
(Origin unknown, retold by R' Mark Novak)
My late rebbe, R' Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, zt"l, (זכר צדיק לברכה) was a master storyteller. He taught: "a good story is one where the mind surprises the heart". "A Year of Stories" is dedicated to his memory. I invite you to forward the link to these stories so that they find their way into the hearts of other listeners and tellers.
Please consider offering a tax deductible donation to support this project and the work DC's Jewish Renewal community Minyan Oneg Shabbat. A shout out to Judy Young for her generous offering.
If you would like to be added to the growing list of
"Year of Stories" followers, let me know at RebMarko@gmail.com,
with "Year of Stories" in the subject line.
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