Apropos to this weeks ’toon, here’s a neat piece of correspondence dealt with recently:

Dear Rabbi Infinity,

Our agency has received anecdotal information concerning a certain Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, describing how this aforementioned rabbi engaged horses in highly accelerated travel for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment of his students and other various escapades. As concerned representatives of an international NGO for the investigation of folk tales and legends that may be responsible for injustice towards other-than-human citizens of our planet, we are requesting any information you may have on the following issues:

  1. Were these horses whipped, beaten, over-worked, stressed or otherwise treated in an unfair fashion in order to facilitate these journeys?
  2. Were any provisions made for the possible trauma, anxiety, disorientation or other such psychological disorders that may have been brought upon these horses due to the extra-normative experience of hyper-accelerated travel?
  3. If this was considered a spiritually enhancing experience for the aforesaid rabbi and his students, were these horses granted fair share in this facet of the experience?
  4. Were these horses provided appropriate compensation in form of standard and fair horse wages for their services?

Signed:

Officers of Very Official NGO for Investigations of Folk Tales and Legends That May Be Responsible For Injustice Towards Other-Than-Human Citizens Of Our Planet

 

Dear Very Official People,

After intensive research, here’s what I got: 

Standard procedures were as follows:

  1. Rabbi I. Baal Shem Tov instructs his students, “Okay, guys! Load up the wagon!”
  1. Everybody piles onto the wagon.
  2. The Baal Shem Tov instructs, “Okay driver, get those horses into gear!”
  3. Horses start pulling forward.
  4. Baal Shem Tov instructs, “Okay, everybody! About face!”
  5. Everybody turns to face the road behind them, including the wagon-driver— horses excepted. At which point, all becomes a psychedelic blur. Fields, forests, cottages and cows whiz by at light speed until…
  6. Next thing you know, wagon screeches to a halt in front of some quaint tavern in a distant land for today’s setting of the continued adventures of the Baal Shem Tov and Associates.

Concerning the horses: 

Horses went by the names Charles and Joseph. Due to retro-seating of all human passengers of the Baal Shem Tov vehicle, no eyewitness reports of the horses’ physical states during the journey were recorded. However, the following account of Charlie and Joe’s audible conversation has reached us: 

(As you may be aware, students of the Baal Shem Tov were required to attain fluency in languages of animals, birds, fish, trees, men, lichen, several other plant species as well as certain forms of inert elements. Afflicting unnecessary discomfort on any of the above was strictly prohibited.)

C: Hey Joe!

J: Yeah, Charlie?

C: We’re movin’ pretty fast, eh?

J: Yeah. Cool, eh?

C: Joe, see those cows zippin’ by?

J: Wip-Zing! Sure. Neato, eh?

C: Joe, horses don’t move this fast.

J: So wadduzat mean, Charlie?

C: It means we’re not horses any more!

J: So if we’re not horses any more, what are we?

C: Well, what’s better than horses, Joe?

J: Well Charlie, I’ve been socially conditioned since childhood to believe that people are better than horses…

C: Which means…

J: That we’re not horses any more…

C: We’re…

C & J: PEOPLES! HEY! WHOAH! PEOPLES! ALRIGHT!

At this point, the Baal Shem Tov wagon velocity accelerated dramatically. 

Moments later, further dialogue was noted. 

J: Peoples! Whoah! Peoples! Whoah!

C: Hey Joe, we’re not peoples.

J: We’re peoples, Charlie! Did you see that town flash by? We’re flyin’, eh Charlie!

C: Joe, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Peoples don’t fly.

J: Peoples don’t fly? Sure peoples fly! We’re flyin’, and we’re peoples!

C: No, we’re not peoples.

J: So if we’re not peoples and we ain’t horses for sure, so what are we, eh?

C: We gotta be…

J: You’re kiddin’! We gotta be…

C & J: ANGELS! HEY! WHOAH! ANGELS! SUPER COOL, BROTHER!

At this point the Baal Shem Tov transport device achieved light speed. Which means that they were immediately in all places at once, transcendent of the space-time continuum. The Baal Shem Tov then chose the precise vector coordinates at which he resolved their location and terminated the journey process. Horses Charlie and Joe were unhitched and fed oats. The following conversation was recorded:

J: Oats! Yeah, I’m famished, eh!

C: They’re not all for you, eh!

J: Say, Charlie, do angels eat oats?

C: Waddoo I care, I’m hungry! Hey, how come the good stuff is always over on your side?

No signs of trauma, anxiety or emotional impairment were noted. On the contrary, all subsequent behavior appeared perfectly normative for your typical horse. As one of the Baal Shem Tov’s wise students noted, “When you’re being the horse for a tzaddik, you could really fly. But the acid test is in how you eat your oats afterwards.”

 

Postscript: Charlie and Joe were later seen draped in Jewish prayer shawls, swaying to and fro, Kabalistic manuscripts laid out before them. Their dialogue was noted and recorded:

J: Hey, Charlie! I’m flyin’, eh!

C: Yeah! We’re goin’ high, eh, brother…