Rebbe David of Dinov was once celebrating the Purim feast in the synagogue with his chassidim; it had started in the late afternoon and continued with full strength into the evening. They were all enjoying the food and drinking liquor, as is customary. The musicians were playing, the Chassidim were singing and dancing, and joy reigned supreme until, in their holy inebriation, the no longer knew the difference between “blessed is Mordechai” and “cursed is Haman.” It was as if there was no more evil in the world, as if everything was holy, everything was good.

But even though they were joyful, one problem was on everyone’s mind. There was a rumor that some of the gentiles in Dinov wereThe musicians were playing planning a pogrom that was to take place a month hence—on Passover, when pogroms were often carried out by drunken peasants incited by their priests. It was said that the pogrom would be on the first night of Passover, when all the Jews would be in their homes, celebrating the Seder. In fact, Rebbe David had heard that these anti-Semites were meeting right then in a tavern on the gentile side of town to plan their evil deeds.

About midnight, Rebbe David said to his Chassidim at the table, “We’ve done something right here in the synagogue to wipe out Amalek. But do you want to finish the job? To really wipe out Amalek?

The Chassidim called back, “Yes, Rebbe, we’re ready!”

“If your answer is yes,” said Rebbe David, “then sing and dance with me now with all your heart and soul!”

The rebbe led the Chassidim in a joyous song, and they danced with ecstatic abandon. They sang the Chassidic melody over and over until everyone present had entered fully—with head, hands, feet, and even boots—into the supernal realm of joy.

In the midst of this exuberant and elated singing and dancing, which carried everyone present to the heights of joyous ecstasy, the rebbe suddenly called out, “The time has come. Let’s go!” He got up and led the Chassidim and the musicians outside the synagogue, and they all piled into wagons and started riding through the streets—with the musicians playing and the Chassidim singing—right into the gentile neighborhood.

Dinov was a tiny town; they reached the gentile neighborhood in a few minutes. The rebbe had them drive right up to the tavern where the anti-Semites were doing their plotting, and the Chassidim climbed down from the wagons and followed the rebbe into the tavern, all of them singing and dancing in joyous abandon.

The peasants were by this time a little drunk and had begun to curse the Jews. But just then Rebbe David walked in the door, holy and pure and shining like an angle of G‑d. He walked right up to the leader of the anti-Semites, took his hand, and started to dance with him. Then each chassid took the hand of an anti-Semite, and they all began to dance in great joy. The whole room became filled with holiness and sweetness.

They all began to dance in great joy

After an hour or two of singing and dancing, they sat down to rest, and all the peasants and chassidim crowded around Rebbe David. Turning to the peasants, he said, “My dearest brothers, there’s something I must ask you. I’m so happy to be with you, and I’m so glad I came. But I have to tell you: I heard that you hate Jews! Is there somebody here that hates us?”

The leader of the anti-Semites, looking down at his feet, shook his head in denial and said embarrassedly, “No, that’s not true!” All the peasants looked around at one another, and each one said, “Not me! Maybe someone else; I don’t hate Jews!”

“I’ve heard an unbelievable rumor—though I’m sure it’s not true!—that you were planning a pogrom against us,” said the rebbe.

“Not us!” said the leader, looking around evasively and blushing with shame at his fellow plotters.

“If that’s so,” said Rebbe David, “then why shouldn’t we be the best of friends?”

All the peasants were so moved the rebbe’s holiness and love that they all shouted out, “Yes, Rebbe, yes! Be our best friend!”

Then the real dancing began.