When the great Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov saw misfortune threatening the Jews it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted.
Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Magid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: “Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer.” And again the miracle would be accomplished.
Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say: “I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient.” It was sufficient and the miracle was accomplished.
Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to G-d: “I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient.” And it was sufficient.
G-d made man because G-d loves stories.“Gates of the Forest” by Eli Wiesel
One story leads to another and another.
What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story.Eli Wiesel
The bible is a series of stories about the human condition, transitioning from one generation to the next. Every human trait and experience under the sun exists in the bible.
When we study Torah, we don’t just interpret the words. We’re instructed to interpret the empty space between and around the words as well. The written words are called “Black Fire” and the empty spaces are called “White Fire.” What is the unspoken story in the empty spaces? What are the words, feelings and emotions left unsaid? There are stories in the silence. Stories that weren’t given room to manifest in the spoken space. We know this from our own life experiences. The silent space is alive with emotional energy.
One story leads to another. That’s what Jewish exegesis and Midrash is about. All of the stories and all of the stories within the stories. “All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient.” “And it was sufficient.”
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54 Portions / The Wild Pomegranate Tree