Rabbi David Lipper
I am a storyteller. They have powerful images and bring meaningful messages to light. Here is a wonderful story from a Chassidic master.
Some Hasidim of the Maggid of Mezheritz came to him. “Rebbe, we are puzzled. It says in the Talmud that we must thank God as much for the bad days, as for the good. How can that be? What would our gratitude mean if we gave it equally for the good and the bad?”
The Maggid replied, “Go to Anapol. Reb Zusya will have an answer for you.”
The Hasidim undertook the journey. Arriving in Anapol, they inquired for Reb Zusya. At last, they came to the poorest street of the city. There, crowded between two small houses, they found a tiny shack, sagging with age. When they entered, they saw Reb Zusya sitting at a bare table, reading a volume by the light of the only small window. “Welcome, strangers!” he said. “Please pardon me for not getting up; I have hurt my leg. Would you like food? I have some bread. And there is water!”
“No. We have come only to ask you a question. The Maggid of Mezheritz told us you might help us understand: Why do our sages tell us to thank God as much for the bad days as for the good?”
Reb Zusya laughed. “Me? I have no idea why the Maggid sent you to me.” He shook his head in puzzlement. “You see, I have never had a bad day. Every day God has given to me has been filled with miracles.”
I agree. These days are indeed filled with miracles. We have a wonderful congregation with a blossoming membership. I am grateful each day for the trust you have placed in me to be your rabbi. We have unprecedented activity and new programming beginning each month. We have an amazing staff working together to bring Reform Judaism to life. We have young families returning to Temple and our religious school is growing by leaps and bounds. We have meaningful and relevant Jewish life here.
The month of December brings to us opportunities for re-dedication. Let us use the lights of our menorahs and the spirit of the season to renew our authentic Jewish lives. Like the Maccabees of long ago, who used their passion to grow strong and defeat their enemies, let our passion for our congregation grow so that our dedication to its future will continue to thrive. Join us for all our Chanukah activities and let’s let our light shine! Happy Chanukah and Blessings to your family.
This column first appeared in Our Voices, Issue #22