A Story about Stories
Rheingold Family Haggadah
When the great founder of the modern Hasidim, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, saw misfortune threatening the Jews, it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished, and the misfortune or trouble averted. Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Rabbi Maggid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again the miracle would be accomplished, disaster was averted and life continued with its ups and downs. Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more (this time, from themselves) would go into the forest and say: "I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." It was sufficient and the miracle of continued life was accomplished. Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his house, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient. So some people say God made men because He loves stories. And we tell the story of Passover every year before this holiday meal because this is the story of how we got to where we are. This is the story, as far back as we can remember, of our beginning.