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Driveway Moment

04/13/2023 12:12:42 PM


Rabbi Scott Hausman -Weiss

Whenever the Jews were threatened with disaster, the Baal Shem Tov would go to a certain place in the forest, light a fire, and say a special prayer. Always a miracle would occur, and the disaster would be averted.

In later times, when disaster threatened, the Maggid of Mezritch, his disciple, would go to the same place in the forest, and say, “Master of the universe, I do not know how to light the fire, but I can say the prayer.” And again, the disaster would be averted.

Still, later, his disciple, Moseh Leib of Sasov, would go to the same place in the forest and say, “Lord of the world, I do not know how to light the fire, or say the prayer, but I know the place and that must suffice.” And it always did.

When Israel of Riszhyn needed intervention from heaven, he would say to God, "I no longer know the place, nor how to light the fire, nor how to say the prayer, but I can tell the story, and that must suffice.

And it did.  (Hasidic tale as told in The Jewish Spirit, a Celebration in Stories and Art)

The origin of this story is unknown, and moreover, its meaning has often evaded me.  But yesterday, I had one of those “Driveway Moments,” that every NPR listener can appreciate.  We are bombarded by so many disasters and upheavals and “things gone sour,” in our immediate vicinity and throughout the world.  It is so easy to become inured to the weight of these profoundly terrorizing experiences, if only because we are unable to find a touchpoint.  Not about what we can each do, or even how we can “fix the world in our one small way.”  But simply allowing the story to touch us is a first and truly meaningful “way-in.”  The following story of two Ukrainian child refugees in the US and in Spain, brought to life for me the pain and sorrow, and ironically, the seemingly inevitability of the way “Change” creates new possibilities. I encourage you to listen to this powerful story about Aurora and Daniel; its worth the 11 minutes, in your driveway, or wherever you find yourself today.


Thu, May 23 2024 15 Iyyar 5784