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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 713


The Mad Dancers

Book Name:

The Golden Mountain

Tradition: Jewish, Eastern European Hassidic Jews

Already the voices of opponents were raised against the Baal Shem's teaching, for many rabbis could not understand his ways. Some said of him that he dishonoured the Sabbath with singing and freedom, some said that his ways and the ways of those who followed him and called themselves Chassidim were truly the ways of madmen.

One of the scholars asked of the Baal Shem, "What of the learned rabbis who call this teaching false?"

The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Once, in a house, there was a wedding festival. The musicians sat in a corner and played upon their instruments, the guests danced to the music, and were merry, and the house was filled with joy. But a deaf man passed outside the house; he looked in through the window and saw the people whirling about the room, leaping, and throwing about their arms. 'See how they fling themselves about!' he cried, 'it is a house filled with madmen!' For he could not hear the music to which they danced."

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