Story Library

When the Waters Were Changed (Sufi)

In this Sufi story from Tales of the Dervishes, Khidr warns that all water will disappear and be replaced with water that drives people mad. Only one man heeds the warning and stores water for himself, observing the effects of the change on others.

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The Language of Signs

In Dov Noy’s “Folktales of Israel,” a wicked priest challenges a Jew to a sign language dispute, threatening to kill all Jews if no one accepts. After weeks of searching, a humble poultry dealer volunteers. In the dispute, his simple, literal responses are interpreted by the priest as profound wisdom. Impressed, the

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A Besht tale re-told by Reb Zalman

Reb Zalman’s recounting of the Baal Shem Tov’s journey reveals a profound tale of sacrifice, destiny, and divine intervention, where a couple’s selfless act leads them to an unexpected fortune, embodying the mystic ideal that anyone can be the Holy One’s instrument for good.

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Why Do You Always Tell Stories?

In a moment ripe with anticipation, the Baal Shem Tov transcends expectation, offering his disciples not a story, but a profound revelation: “Salvation lies in remembrance.”

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Beautiful candles

Ask for the Redemption

On Yom Kippur, the Kedushat Levi, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, observes Yankel the tailor’s fervent prayer, leading to a conversation where Yankel boldly proposes forgiving each other’s sins with God, prompting the Rebbe’s reflection on a missed chance for redemption.

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Remind Me

In Ropchitz, Rabbi Naftali encounters a night watchman and, upon being asked whom he serves, is struck by the profoundness of the question, leading him to hire the watchman to constantly remind him of his service to God.

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There’s No Place Like Home

Martin Buber recounts the story of Rabbi Eizik, who, after a recurring dream, travels to Prague to find a treasure but instead learns from a guard’s own dream that the treasure is actually buried in his home in Cracow, leading to a profound realization about finding what one seeks within oneself.

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Ripe green lemons on the small evergreen tree

The Wisdom of Mother Nature

Mullah Nasruddin, resting under a walnut tree, ponders the oddity of nature’s design where small walnuts grow on majestic trees and large pumpkins on fragile vines, but a falling walnut changes his perspective, leading him to appreciate nature’s wisdom.

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cropped shot of man in business suit with katana sword on black

Once a Samurai…

A samurai seeking wisdom about heaven and hell visits Zen master Hakuin, who provokes him into drawing his sword in anger, then declares this reaction as the gate to hell, illustrating a profound lesson through direct experience.

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Story Catalog

R’ Zalman tz’l teaches that a good maisa – a good story – is one where the heart surprises the mind.

Please feel free to use these stories in your teaching and in your holy conversations. ​​I welcome your gentle comments.

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