My late rebbe, R' Zalman Schacter-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 tellers and listeners.
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There once lived a king who had twin sons. Though they looked exactly alike, their personalities were different as night and day. One was a devout pessimist, the other an incurable optimist. When they came of age, the king decided it was time to open their eyes to the other side of life, and he planned to do so through the gift that he would give to each of them.
For the pessimist, he went to the royal jeweler.
"I would like him to have the finest watch ever made", he said. "Money is no object - jewels, diamonds, gold, platinum- the best. And I want it ready by his birthday."
For the optimist, he went to the Palace Gardener.
"When he wakes up on the morning of his birthday, I want him to see, at the foot of his bed, a huge pile of manure."
The birthday arrived, and the king, with great anticipation, went to see his pessimistic son. He found him sitting glumly on his bed, holding a magnificent watch.
"How do you like your gift?" asked the king.
"It's all right," said the pessimist. "But it's really rather gaudy. And even if it wasn't, it's the sort of thing that will probably get stolen, or I might break it or worse, I might lose it."
The king had heard enough and went off to visit the room of the sunny optimist. As he approached he heard singing and laughter teeming from the room, and when he entered, he found his son dancing with joy. When his father entered the room, the son ran up and hugged him.
"Oh, thank you, father, thank you! It's just what I wanted!"
Bewildered, the king asked his son, "Just what are you thanking me for?"
"Why father", the son cried out with glee, "for the horse!"
(Retold by R' Mark Novak - origin unknown - please let me kmow if you have a source)
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"Year of Stories" followers, let me know at RebMarko@gmail.com,
with "Year of Stories" in the subject line.
A personal note: When a storyteller follows up a story by telling the listener what it means, my heart sinks and my mind withdraws. I leave it to you, gentle reader, to place these stories into the context of your personal journey, gleaning whatever meaning or interpretation resonates within.
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