Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

The Dancing Jews

The Dancing Jews


Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of the Chassidic movement, was once asked: "Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behavior of a healthy, sane individual?"

The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story:

Once, a musician came to town -- a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play.

Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.

A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in circles in middle of the street?

"Chassidim," concluded the Baal Shem Tov, "are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in G‑d's creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore cease to dance?"

From Be'er HaChassidut by Eliezer Steinman; from the Hebrew by Yanki Tauber
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (8)
March 11, 2013
Alas, it is we who are deaf to the melodies coming from Heaven 24/7.

If we were to hear them, our hearts and souls would be dancing in the same Light that led the Israelites from Mitzrayim (spiritual sleep) to Yisrael (Divine Consciousness.)
dov bear ben nechemya
December 7, 2011
Loved it
I truelly learn most from short but sharp meassages Thank You.
London, England
August 20, 2011
is this a true parable?
December 11, 2010
A ++
Sakaya, I got a laugh out of your comment.

It's a great parable. Time to sing on the corner by myself and see if anyone joins me.
December 7, 2010
Great Story... ;)
Thanks for the post, i'm sure i will get an A++ for this..
Sayaka Nakahara
Tokyo, Japan
November 20, 2010
I am not sure
Is this is a Parable?
Rizal, Pakistan
August 20, 2008
E. S. Kingston
north hollywood, ca
August 5, 2005
Lovely story
I enjoy reading stories of the Baal Shem Tov and when I read this one it truly became special to me. It is very inspiring and lovely. As a musician it touched me even more! :)
Miami, FL