Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Bouquet of Rabbinic Wisdom

retold by Doug Lipman
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak walked down the main street of Berdichev, greeting all who passed him. To some he gave compliments; to some he offered blessings; of some he asked questions, then stopped to listen to their answers.

As the rabbi slowly made his way through the stream of people, one of his congregants strode through the crowd, elbows pumping with determination. Passing Levi Yitzhak, he murmured, "Sholom Aleichem, Rabbi."

Suddenly, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak shouted at him, "Stop! Where are you going?"

The man turned to face his rebbe. "I am pursuing my living, Rabbi," he growled. "Please let me continue."

Rabbi Levi Yitzhak smiled. "How do you know," he said, "that your living is not behind you, trying to catch up?"

How Do We Know?

retold by Doug Lipman
Some students of the Baal Shem Tov came to him one day with a question. "Every year we travel here to learn from you. Nothing could make us stop doing that. But we have learned of a man in our own town who claims to be a tzaddik, a righteous one. If he is genuine, we would love to profit from his wisdom. But how will we know if he is a fake?"

The Baal Shem Tov looked at his earnest hasidim. "You must test him by asking him a question." He paused. "You have had difficulty with stray thoughts during prayer?"

"Yes!" The hasidim answered eagerly. "We try to think only of our holy intentions as we pray, but other thoughts come into our minds. We have tried many methods not to be troubled by them."

"Good," said the Baal Shem Tov. "Ask him the way to stop such thoughts from entering your minds." The Baal Shem Tov smiled. "If he has an answer, he is a fake."

Also, watch this (YouTube wouldn't let me embed it). "Ich weiss als a Dybbuk esst nicht." (Forgive the poor transcription... haven't a clue how to write the language, though I can understand it better than I can Plautdietsch.)