Issue nº 33

Returning to the world after death |  Four Jewish stories

Four Jewish stories

What makes me suffer

     Rabbi Moshe de Sassov gathered his disciples in order to tell them that he had finally learned to love his neighbor. They all thought that he had had a divine revelation, but Moshe denied this.
     - In fact - he said - this morning when I went out to do some shopping, I saw my neighbor, Esther, talking to her son. She asked him:
     "Do you love me?"
     The son said yes. So Esther went on:
     "Do you know what makes me suffer?"
     "I've no idea," replied the son.
     "How can you love me, if you do not know what makes me suffer? Try to quickly find out all the things which make me unhappy, for only then will your love be impeccable."
     And Rabbi Moshe de Sassov concluded:
     - True love is that which manages to avoid unnecessary suffering.

What pleases God

     On the Torah's day of joy, Ball-Shem's pupils celebrated, drinking the master's wine. The rabbi's wife complained:
     "If they drink all the wine, there won't be any for the ceremony," she said.
     "Put an end to the party," replied the rabbi.
     The woman went to the room where the pupils were drinking. But as soon as she opened the door, she changed her mind and went back to her husband.
     "Why didn't you do anything?" asked Baal-Shem.
     "Because they danced, sang and were so full of joy for life,", replied his wife. "I hadn't the courage."
     "You have understood: this is how God receives the gratitude of his people - seeing they are content. Go there and serve my disciples more wine," concluded the rabbi.

The sealed lip

     The disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov went to him:
     "I cannot talk to God."
     "This often happens," said Nachman. "We feel that our lips are sealed, or that the words do not come. However, the simple fact that effort is needed to overcome the situation, is a beneficial attitude."
     "But it is not enough," insisted the disciple.
     "You are right. At such times, what you must do is look up and say: "My God, I am far from You and cannot believe in my voice."
     "For, in truth, God listens and always answers. It is only we who cannot speak, fearful that He is not paying attention."

The prayer of the flock

     Jewish tradition tells the story of a shepherd who always said to the Lord: "Master of the Universe, if You have a flock, I shall look after it for free, for I love You."
     One day a wise man heard this strange prayer. Worried that it might offend God, he taught the shepherd the prayers he knew. But as soon as they were parted, the shepherd forgot the prayers; however, fearful of offending God by offering to tend to his flocks, he decided to abandon completely all conversations with Him.
     That same night the wise man had a dream: "Who guards the Lord's flocks?" said an angel. "The shepherd prayed with his heart, and you taught him to pray with his mouth."
     The following day the wise man returned, asked the shepherd to forgive him, and included the Prayer of the Flock in his book of psalms.

Issue nº33