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A Hasidic Tale

It happened in the time of the Ba'al Shem Tov(1) that the authorities in the town of Plinsk seized several Jews and condemned them to be burned at the stake.

The Ba'al Shem Tov was troubled. He knew that they would be honored as martyrs in the World to Come; but was this to be their temporal reward for following the Torah? He prayed that the Holy One -- blessed be He -- would see fit to take vengeance on the evil men who had committed this unspeakable crime.

That night, the great rabbi was visited by one of the souls of the dead. "Do not pray for vengeance," it said sternly. "As we were on our way to Gan Eden(2), we heard your prayers. Our thoughts became distracted, and our minds were filled with the yetzer ha-ra(3). As a result, we were waylaid in Gehinnom(4) for a half an hour. And I may tell you that the spiritual torment we suffered in Gehinnom was greater than everything that we endured in our lives and deaths together."

The Ba'al Shem Tov was greatly moved by these words. He vowed to pray for understanding between men for the rest of his days, and never again lust for vengeance.

Anyway, about a week later, on Simhas Torah(5), a band of Cossacks swept into Plinsk and kicked the living shit out of a whole bunch of dumb Jew-bastards.(6)


(1) The "Good Master of the (Divine) Name"; an 18th century Talmudic sage, and the founder of Hasidism.

(2) The lower level of Paradise, according to Jewish mystical tradition.

(3) The "evil inclination."

(4) Purgatory. Some recent scholarship has argued that this term was also used by medieval Jewish mystics to refer to Hell.

(5) The festival marking the completion of the annual cycle of Torah readings.

(6) And they deserved it, too, the money-grubbing fucks.

Date Written: May 30, 2003
Author: Ned J. Soyor
Average Vote: 3.3333

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