Thursday, April 3, 2008


"Facts lead us to knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom."(Rachel Naomi Remen-Kitchen Table Wisdom).
To tell a story is an act by which we try to realize our capacity for wonder, meaning and delight. We understand human experience when we listen to a story, and its meaning changes as our capacity to understand meaning unfolds and grows. All of us have stories; all of us are stories in the making, whose value is appreciated when we pay greater attention to their meaning.
In Jewish thinking, " God, as it were, camouflaged Himself in stories."(Breslov Haggadah).
The narrative of the Bible, especially that of the Exodus, transcends literature, words of entertainment and education. The stories of Scripture in mystical thinking are the disguises of divinity in the world. God is hidden in every word, every episode, every experience. This in fact is what transforms Scripture into a sacred story.
The Exodus story-a tale of exile and eventual redemption, is the story of all humanity, not only Israel. As we relate the details of these stories, so too must we relate to them.

Story telling transcends the social, the psychological. Sharing stories around the Seder table-Magid- transports us to a place where God's hand in history and the world becomes evident. In a sense, a story is a renewed revelation but hidden and discreet requiring an openess of heart and mind to perceive the pulse of the divine.
Stories stir our souls, shape memories and connections, stretch our imaginations and nurture our hearts. Magid offers us a vehicle of invaluable spiritual enrichment, linking us to those who came before and leading us into the unknowable future with roots out of which we can encounter what lies ahead with greater wisdom and faith.
"The one who elaborates upon the story of Yetziat Mitrayim-the Exodus from Egypt-is considered praiseworthy. " We are grateful for the story and for the gift of once again being able to share it with ourselves and others.
When the Ba'al Shem Tov had to fulfill a difficult task before him, he would go to a certain place in the woods, light a fire, and meditate in prayer, and what he set out to perform was done.
When a generation later the "Maggid" of Mezeritz was faced with the same task, he would go to the same place in the woods and say:"We can no longer light the fire but we can still say the prayers," and what he wanted done became a reality.
Again, a generation later, Rabbi Moishe of Sassov had to perform a task. And he too went into the woods and said:"We can no longer light a fire, nor do we know the secret meditations belonging to the prayer, but we do know the place in the woods to which it all belongs," and that must be sufficient; and sufficient it was.
But when another generation had passed, and Rabbi Israel of Rishin was called upon to perform the task, he sat down on his chair and said: " We cannot light the fire, we cannot speak the prayers, we do not know the place, but we can tell the story of how it was done. " And the story that he told had the same effect as the actions of the other three.
"In every generation we are obligated to tell the story..." The story will enable us to perform the holy task of touching the Holy Presence. The story is all we have.

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