Sep. 12th, 2010

leftyjew: (Default)
So this Rosh Hashanah, I heard two stories worth repeating.

1. The joke

In my shul growing up, the rabbi would always start with "So." (pause) and then a joke. So this was his joke from this Rosh Hashanah:
One night, a poor man comes to the rabbi and says, "Rabbi, my horse died. Without my horse I can't harvest my crops and my family will have nothing to eat this winter." The rabbi says, "Okay, let's go over here." The rabbi takes the man to the stables of the richest man in town. Everyone in town knows this guy, but he knows nobody. Anyway, it's night, so the rabbi and the poor man are alone looking at the horses. The poor man looks at one and says, "Rabbi, these are amazing, but look especially at this one! The ears! The tail! The muscles! This is a truly great horse!" The rabbi says, "Then take it." The poor man refuses, "Rabbi, that's stealing! I can't take the horse of my neighbor!" The rabbi says, "Listen, I'm the rabbi. I'm telling you - this isn't stealing. It's okay. Just take it." So the poor man, without another hope, listens to the rabbi and takes the horse.
The rabbi then lies down in the hay where the horse was and covers himself with the blanket the horse was under. That morning, the rich man who doesn't know anyone in town is walking through his stables. He looks at the rabbi and says, "Who are you and where's my horse?" The rabbi says, "I'm a rabbi. Some time ago, I had lustful thoughts about a woman, so I was turned into a horse. You've taken such good care of me all these years! Thank you! You've given me food, shelter, company, and always kept me clean. You've been such a wonderful owner! Now I'm going off to my home where my family is hopefully still waiting for me." With that, the rabbi stands up and walks home.
A few years later, the rich man is walking through the market and sees a horse for sale. He recognizes it instantly. It has the same markings, the same color, the same eyes. Flabbergasted, he goes up to the horse and whispers in its ear, "Rabbi! Again?!"

2. The story

At [ profile] chococynic's shul, the rabbi told a remarkable story before we blew the shofar:
In Barcelona, Elul, at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, the secret Jews were confused. They could practice Shabbat in secret at home. They could practice Passover and Shavuot in secret at home. They could not understand how to keep Rosh Hashanah without community. To add to the confusion, there was a concert planned erev Rosh Hashanah to celebrate the discovery of the New World. Should they go? This would be the perfect chance to show Torquemada's men that they were no longer Jews. Plus there was a rumor circulating that it would be worthwhile. So many Jews went. They heard new music composed for a whole set of indigenous instruments form the New World. Among these instruments was a ram's horn which played a full halakhically-appropriate set of tekiahs, shevarims, shevarim-teruahs, teruahs and a final tekiah gedolah with the Spanish nobles none the wiser. Only the conversos knew that they had just heard a shofar sound.


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