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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 the 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
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dov bear ben nechemya usa March 11, 2013

lovetodoandlearn 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.) Reply

Anonymous London, England December 7, 2011

Loved it I truelly learn most from short but sharp meassages Thank You. Reply

Anonymous england August 20, 2011

is this a true parable? Reply

Anonymous PUEBLO 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. Reply

Sayaka Nakahara Tokyo, Japan December 7, 2010

Great Story... ;) Thanks for the post, i'm sure i will get an A++ for this.. Reply

Anonymous Rizal, Pakistan November 20, 2010

I am not sure Is this is a Parable? Reply

E. S. Kingston north hollywood, ca August 20, 2008

Solid Reply

Anonymous Miami, FL via 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! :) 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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