Sometimes we all come to a place where we doubt the value of what we do. In a world of confusion, do stories really matter? When this happens, I’ve found it helps to turn to a master storyteller for a dose of inspiration and hope. As soon as I found this story by the great Eli Wiesel, I knew it was meant to be shared:*
“When the great Rabbi IsraelBaal 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 themisfortune 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 God: ‘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 tell the story, and this must be sufficient.’ And it was sufficient.
“God made man because he loves stories.”
Beautiful story, beautifully told, isn’t it? As we work today, let’s remember that stories matter. Stories save. They bind us to each other and to the world. Write on!
*This lovely tale comes to us from a lovely book called Prayers at 3 A. M., edited by Phil Cousineau.