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The Horse Kid Returns

The Horse Kid Returns


Nowadays it’s a motorbike. Back then it was a fast horse. So this teenage kid pulls up to the shul on his speedy white horse, ties it to a post and swaggers in for a talk with the rabbi. The Big Rabbi. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch. The one they call the Tzemach Tzedek. Just so he can get his parents off his back.

“Hi rabbi! Watzup?” He leans back, hands behind head, right foot up so that his boot wags over his left knee.

That’s okay. The rabbi is cool, too. “Nice horse you got there,” he says.

“Best you can get!” answers the horse kid.


“Meanly fast!”

The rabbi shakes his head. “Too fast is not good.”

“Hey, fast is awesome! I can beat those Cossacks any day. Man, they see this Jewish kid whoosh past them and their teeth are grinding.”

The rabbi still shakes his head. “What if a fast horse gets off track? What if he gets you lost somewhere? A slow horse gets you lost, you’re not so far off. You could still find your way back. If your fast horse get's lost, he’s lost. You’re lost.”

“My horse won’t get lost. He knows I’m boss. He goes where he needs to go.”

“Hey, fast is awesome! I can beat those Cossacks any day.”

“What if he does? What if he figures he just wants to be free? That he doesn’t want a boss?”

Horse kid is squirming around, craning his head to check out the window on his horse. Still there. But ya never know.

“But then,” the Tzemach Tzedek rabbi conceded, “if he can run off and get lost so fast, he can run back home real fast, too.”

Horse kid smiles again. “Yeah, that’s right!”

The rabbi smiles too. Then he leans forward and holds the kid’s hand. His hand is warm and kind. His eyes, too.

“So what about you?” he says.

The kid liked the rabbi. With a little more guidance, he became a super-fast, awesome cool chassid.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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yitzchak sapochkinsky westlake October 6, 2016

What a talent for writing!!! Reply

Alexander NYC July 19, 2016

Re: Curiosity... You two got me thinking, very nice. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL December 12, 2014

Curiosity... I might have sound a bit harsh! I should have added: “with a yiddishe tam (flavor)”
As I did with my children firm with some honey - The kid came back because curiosity got the best of him, the desire to know and to learn…It is in human’s nature to know what will happen next. Reply

Tzvi Freeman December 7, 2014

Re: It's all how you handle a situation! Teens are like soap bars. You gotta hold on, but if you hold too tight… Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL December 7, 2014

It's all how you handle a situation! ...and so are the comments! that is returning...
Teens behave the way you handle them with a iron fist in a velvet glove... Reply

Anonymous Australia December 5, 2014

my experiences with teens have led me down a dark ally. Its good to know how cool they can be!!!!!!! Reply

Anonymous October 23, 2014

Why can't I be as wise as that Rabbi when I am dealing with a teenager? Reply

NC Buffalo May 15, 2014

distasteful We live in a society in which we are exposed to so much coarse language. I think it is very important for sites like to allow us a reprieve. To remind us that there is value to dignified speech. Thank you. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL February 3, 2014

What's up? NU! vie getzt? maybe not the exact spelling! it might have been the way it sound at the time with a bit of arrogance! Reply

Hymie Boston February 2, 2014

OK. So what DID the kid say instead of Whazup? Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL January 22, 2014

It’s all about choices The Rabbi is giving the boy two choices: either you turn bad or you turn good. In both cases it’s its choice, he is the boss. Given the freedom of choice encourages the boy to follow the Rabbi’s advices, who by using humor gets his better attention. As for the “What’s up?” might not have been the exact words at the time, but it surely must have sound that way coming from a youngster. The story shows that kindness and compassion will turn a situation to the best for all involved. Reply

Anonymous January 21, 2014

horse kid The energy of youth and strength is admirable but can lead the human astray very quickly into paths away from God. Human spirit as boss keeps that youthful energy in on the right path; best to keep an eye on it to make sure. Note how guidance in the form of Rabbi doesn't try to get mean or controlling, he is warm and kind and reassuring - youthful energy can get you lost but it can bring you right back on course. That's a good approach because the kid liked him and listened and learned. Reply

Chaim Brooklyn January 9, 2014

The thing I like about this story... is the translation of the medieval Yiddish into modern English vernacular.

Too often, our sacred tales are so loaded with "thee" and "thou" that it might as well be taking place on Alpha Centauri as among our local saints.

Thank you for the shot in the arm! Reply

Shimona January 7, 2014

Don't "Hey" Me! "Hi Rabbi! Whatzup?" and "Hey, fast is awesome." Do you mean to tell me a young boy, even a "modern" child, of the Tzemach Tzedek's day would use this language? I turn to to find an alternative to the common discourse. I found this story to be distasteful and misrepresentative. Reply

Victor Greentree January 13, 2013

Is your horse a friend or just a horsie? You need to like your horse, so that your horse likes you. Then, he'll always come back cause your friends. It's a mmatter of relationship. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida October 9, 2012

“You can run, but you can’t hide” represents the boy wanting to run from his duties but eventually running back to his Boss, G-d’s representative “the Rabbi” Reply

G k, k September 25, 2012

Beautifully give over! - I'd say that the point was that the kid fled (with speed) from what his parents thought important, and what is important in life (torah), and in saying so, the fact that he can go so quickly, just run and leave it all, without thought to ponder and without slow movements in the wrong direction, the way back is easier, and you don;t have to slowly come back, you can do it in one swift movement, with the speed of a speeding horse. -

I love the way the story was given over! Wonderful! Reply

Anonymous DC September 25, 2012

The moral of the comments is: Jewish moms and chassids do not think alike!

Maybe that is why the boy chose to spend so much time with his Rabbi and not his mother! Seems the Rabbi understood fully! Reply

Anny One Camden, NJ September 24, 2012

Style the story was told in I don't like that the story was manipulated. It would have been much more poignant and inspiring had it just been told truthfully, the way it happened. Reply

Leah Lapidus Cleveland September 24, 2012

Think Yom Kippur It is Erev Yom Kippur. At the word "squirming" this is what I got: That this is a brilliantly brief story about teshuvah, returning, back to G-d (Father)(therefore the reference to parents in the story) who truly is the Boss. We each have moments when at least subconsciously we don't want a boss, and we're off running like a wild horse, saying or doing something we regret. As for the part about "fast" and the boy becoming a chassid, the whole point is, that we can and ultimately MUST find a way to use our strengths, talents, personalities whatever we are, whatever we've got FOR GOOD, for TORAH, for the furtherance of G-dliness in the world. A great story, cause isn't it just so cool how the rebbe not only found a way to relate to the rebel easily but like a laser, zeroed in immediately on how to redirect him to good using that which he treasures most: his precious horse. Why can't we just have that laser vision with all of our interactions? would be great. Thanks. Gmar Chasima Tova Reply

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