And G!d Spoke

Contributed by Rabbi Daniel Lev

Why is it that the Jewish master, Reb Zusha, never recalled any of the Torah wisdom he heard from his Rebbe, Dov Ber, the Maggid of Meseritch? I know that you’re burning to know this and that’s why I’m about to tell you.

You see, the Maggid inherited the leadership of the entire Chassidic movement after its founder, the Baal Shem Tov, passed away. Reb Dov Ber was a strategic organizer, as well as a deeply wise teacher. He gathered some of the brightest and most sensitive young souls in Jewish Eastern Europe and taught them how to serve as spiritual masters. For example, he would gather his inner circle of students and they’d go into the main sanctuary of the synagogue and lock the door. Reb Zusha would stand expectantly in the circle with all of the other young rabbis who would someday become renowned Chasidic leaders. The Maggid would pull out a Sefer Torah from the Ark cabinet, and he’d begin teaching new insights straight out of Torah scroll.

On many occasions, when he would read the words “And G!d Spoke to Moses, Saying…” Reb Zusha would immediately jump up and down, bouncing all around the room saying, praying, screaming, whispering, singing, chanting, mumbling, moaning, dancing, and repeating over and over again as a holy plea these words: “And G!d Spoke, and G!d Spoke, and G!d Spoke, and G!d Spoke, and G!d Spoke, and G!d Spoke!!!!.” On and on he’d go until the other students would have to send him into the hallway until he calmed down. And sometimes, they’d have to lock him up in a wood shed because they were afraid, that in his ecstasy, he might dance off of a cliff! That is why Reb Zusha could not remember any of the teachings of the Maggid of Meseritch. In a way, you could say that he was the Maggid’s best student.

(This story was recounted by Dr Martin Buber and interpreted by the great 20th century Jewish storyteller, Reb Reuvan Gold, z’l. May his memory be for a blessing.)