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A Crown of Slippers

A Crown of Slippers

© Zalman Kleinman
© Zalman Kleinman

One Simchat Torah, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem told his disciples:

On Simchat Torah everyone sleeps in a little, because of the hakafot and the festivities of the previous evening. The heavenly angels, however, don't say lchaim on Simchat Torah, and they arose for the morning prayers at the usual time. But the angels found themselves with nothing to do: as the Talmud tells us, the angels cannot sing G‑d's praises in the heavens until Israel sings G‑d's praises on earth. So they decided to do some cleaning up in heaven in the meantime.

They found heaven littered with strange objects: torn slippers and broken heels. The angels are accustomed to finding tzitzit, tefillin, and similar things up there, but they had never come across the likes of these. They decided to ask the angel Michoel, the supernal advocate of the Jewish people, if he knew what this was all about.

"Yes," admitted Michoel, "this is my merchandise. These are the remains of last night's hakafot, at which Jews danced with the Torah. Michoel proceeded to sort the tattered shoes by community: these are from Kaminkeh, these are from Mezeritch, etc.

"The archangel Metat," boasted Michoel, referring to the most prestigious angel in the heavenly court, "ties crowns for G‑d out of Israel's prayers. Today, I shall fashion an even more glorious crown for the Almighty out of these torn shoes."

From the diary of the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn; translation/adaptation by Yanki Tauber.
Painting by Chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman.
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Geoffrey Dreikman Lombard Durham, N.H. October 14, 2014

Truth to Joy....Glorious!! I am a Jew. I believe without "the need for proof". Why? I believe in "truth to Joy" of Simchat Torah...glorious!!!

Geoffrey L Reply

Eugina G Herrera New York City, New York October 14, 2014

Angels cannot sing G-d's praises ...Until we ALL sing G-d's praises with joy.

Thank you for sharing that. Reply

Raphael Ben Avraham Atlanta October 14, 2014

Crown of shoes I cannot but dwell on a photograph of shoes thrown into a pile in one of the Shoa's Jewish work camps of WW 2. It appeared as if one person's sorrow
and pain had been stacked upon another's and then another and so on and so forth. We the living have an obligation to those empty shoes of sorrow and
pain. We in this life must prepare these shoes to be filled once more with tears of laughter and joy for they who come to us in the world to come. Then and only then will the angels dance as old men at a wedding for a son or daughter.
Amen. Reply

Rosalinda México October 24, 2011

DANCE FOR THE SOUL I am not Jew but I enjoy these stories, I read the Thora and I like to do it because I imagine the difficulties that Jewish people had to be free to express their religious beliefs and costumes. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 29, 2010

Welcome to the Dance! This is a lovely little tale. The message is clear and that is, we must dance and rejoice. There is a time for this and Simchas Torah is such a joyous holiday. I once danced the hora on a kibbutz in Israel. It seemed, this dance, to last for hours and hours, as we went round and round and round. I felt myself lifted, clearly, right off the ground, and this is how we rise!

Perhaps the words to raise a child is just this, to teach a child how to dance and that everything we do has that element, that inchoate often element, of finding the joy, the sweet, even in, bittersweet! Reply

Mr. Richard Raff October 8, 2009

Love that art That painting by Zalman Kleinman is wonderful it helps the understanding behind the meaning of Simchat Torah. How can you get bored when you got some much to do I love it. Todah Reply

Judy Resnick Far Rockaway, NY March 25, 2009

The Point Was.... There a lot of similar stories in the same vein: basically, why does G-d need the prayers or the dances of poor imperfect little old me when G-d has countless myriads of perfect angels to sing Praises all day long? And the moral of this story (and all the others like it) is that G-d treasures the prayers and the dances of His People, coming straight from their broken hearts and ragged prayer books and torn shoes, far more than the perfect praises of a zillion heavenly beings. So that should encourage you and me to go to shul to daven when it's five degrees and the baby's crying kept us up all night! Reply

Anonymous eugene, oregon October 4, 2007

if you are questioning whether it is "true", you are missing the point... Reply

irene alhanati Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 3, 2007

Crown of Slippers I was so glad after reading this story !
Thank you ! Reply

Janice Denver, CO October 1, 2007

Crown of Slippers Whether true or not; it gives me Joy!

And I'm not a Jew. Check for bitterness in the soul; when Joy over a wonderful possiblity can't be found. Reply

Abraham Anchorage, Alaska October 13, 2006

Responding to the comment Oh, beloved friend, you ask "how do you know it happened? Did anyone go to heaven and return?" Such stories are typical of the Baal Shem Tov. Indeed he did go to heaven and return, as the story indicates. Another story tells of how he met with Moshiach and was told that when the teachings of Chassidus are spread far and wide, that will usher in the coming of Moshiach.
Such Godly encounters are very popular in Chumash and Neviim, as well as throughout the generations. Holy men have met with God, face to face and lived. Only the fleshly sinfulness will die when seeing God Almighty.
We too can aspire and seek to live this way. We too can become Holy men and women! It is not far from us all, but He is very close. How sweet that God valued the worship of His Holy people to add their shoes-- tattered from dancing for His Honor and Glory--to His Own Crown! What an encouragement of the Endearing God who chose us and calls us His Children! How He Loves us! What a Good Father! Reply

anonymous via October 11, 2006

how do you know that really happend? no one went to heaven and came ddown with this story! is it just to make people feel good?
thanks Reply

yossi overlander London, England via October 28, 2005

Beutiful story I would like to make a big thank you to chabad for making this lovely website not just this in general but all the work chabad is doing may you go from strengh to strengh. Good luck. Reply

Anonymous October 23, 2005

A beautiful story, with a profound message. Thank you Reply

Learn about the life and teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century mystic who permanently changed the Jewish landscape.
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