Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mad Dancers

by Meyer Levin

Already the voices of opponents were raised against the Baal Shem Tov's teachings, for many rabbis could not understand his ways.  Some said of him that he dishonoured the Sabbath, with singing and freedom, some said that his ways and the ways of those who followed him and called themselves "chassidim" were truly the ways of madmen.

One of the scholars asked of the Baal Shem Tov: "What of the learned rabbis who call this teaching false?"

The Baal Shem Tov replied: "Once, in a house, there was a wedding festival. The musicians sat in a corner and played upon their instruments, the guests danced to the music and were merry, and the house was filled with joy. 

A deaf man passed outside the house; he looked in through the window and saw the people whirling about the room, leaping and throwing about their arms.  "See how they fling themselves about!" he cried.  "It is a house filled with madmen!"  For he could not hear the music to which they danced.

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