There was once a great rabbi, the sage of his age. A more righteous person was not to be found in his generation. He gathered his disciples, looked at each in turn, smiled, and breathed his last.
A few days later, his chief disciple has a dream. In his dream, the rebbe was returning to be recyled into this world. "Rebbe!" the disciple said in alarm, "why are you coming back? You lived the most perfect of lives! What is there that could possibly have been left undone?"
The rebbe smiled at the disciple in his dream, and said, "Do you remember when I was dying and you and all of my finest students gathered around my bed? Do you remember when I looked at each of you, and then I closed my eyes and smiled? Well. in that moment, I reviewed my entire life, and I saw that any opportunity there had been to learn a word of Torah, I had learned. And any opportunity there had been to do a mitzvah, I had done it. With that I breathed a sigh of satisfaction and my soul left my body."
The disciple asked, "So rebbe, where was the imperfection?"
"In that moment of satisfaction"
(Story from R' Mitch Chefitz's The Seventh Telling. Please share other citations)
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 tellers and listeners.
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.
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.
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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