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The Boy Who Crowed Like a Rooster and Saved a City

The Boy Who Crowed Like a Rooster and Saved a City


Once during the Neilah prayer, the Baal Shem Tov cried and entreated more than usually. The disciples understood that there was a great prosecution Above and the situation was grave, and they also intensified their prayers and crying. When the rest of the congregation saw this, their hearts were shattered and they also joined the impassioned supplication.

There was a young man there from a village, who had come for the Days of Awe to the Baal Shem Tov’s synagogue. He was completely uneducated, and he stood the whole time looking at the face of the cantor without saying anything.

As a village dweller, the boy knew the sounds made by all the different farm animals, and he especially esteemed the rooster’s crowing. When he heard the weeping and the outcries, his heart was also shattered and he cried out loudly, “Cock-a-doodle-do! G‑d, have mercy!”

The worshippers in the synagogue were confused to hear a voice crowing like a rooster, and a few of them scolded him to quiet him down, and would have thrown him out if he had not protested, “I am also a Jew.”

The confusion was pierced by the voice of the Baal Shem Tov, followed by the disciples as they hurried to finish the Neilah prayer. The face of the Baal Shem Tov shone, and with a special melody the repetition of the Amidah commenced for the Neilah prayer.

As Yom Kippur ended, the Baal Shem Tov related to his disciples that there had been an accusation leveled in heaven, with the prosecution seeking to have a particular community sentenced to destruction.

As he aroused divine mercy on the community, a great prosecution was aroused against him for encouraging Jews to settle in villages and out-of-the-way places, where they were likely to be influenced by their gentile neighbors. When he began to examine the behavior of the village dwellers, he saw that the situation was very grave.

However, suddenly the sound of the call of the village dweller was heard in heaven, and its sincerity brought great pleasure above, nullifying all the prosecutions.1

Igrot Kodesh Admor Maharayatz, vol. 4, p. 314.
Excerpted from Days Of Awe, Days Of Joy. Published and Copyright by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn NY 11213
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Anonymous September 14, 2013

The total innocence and sincerity of the boy's prayer was suddenly heard in heaven, (everyone was praying). It was his uneducated earnest cry from the deepest part of his being that saved them all. Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel September 11, 2013

Cry of the Sheperd I seem to recall a similar story where in the shul an uneducated boy cried to G-d with a sound that was shrill but without words. Because it was in the presence of chasidim, their Rabbi understood and explained that although G-d listens to the words of those recited prayers he also responds to the prayers expressed feelings.

So this particular cry has as much meaning as the other prayers and the associated emotional expressions (kavana or purpose for the directions of their sounds) of those who wish to pray is regarded as being equally significant. This idealized fact resulted in a split in the chasidic movemment, so that theose who wished to express their joy by dance and song instead of long hours of study and the recital of written prayers, became independent. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, FL October 7, 2012

“Cock-a-doodle-do! G‑d, have mercy!” Was it this sound that was heard in heaven, and its sincerity brought great pleasure above, nullifying all the prosecutions??? otherwise I also dont get this story - it seems that it is incomplete - something is missing Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via September 25, 2012

Spelling of G-d There is a biblical prohibition against desecrating G-d's name, if we write G-d's name out fully and the page is printed and happens to fall on the ground and people step on it or similar occurrences, G-d's name would be desecrated, in order to avoid that we do not spell the Name out fully on material that can easily be printed on flimsy paper, but spell it "G-d". For more information see this link: Reply

Rich Columbus, Ohio October 7, 2011

G d...? Why do you not spell G d? Reply

andy d. land o lakes, fl September 26, 2009

well i still dont get the story i guess i should look up these words too Reply

Anonymous April 27, 2009

New Words When I read this i was really confused. There where words I didnt really understand, like G-d, Baal Shem Tov, etc. But after I did some research about some of these words, I realized that this is a really interesting piece. I give it a thumbs up! Reply

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