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Author Comment
AnamariaAnders
Registered User
(9/2/03 5:09 pm)
Sources and variants of Hasidic tale
Hello everyone. I'm interested in a Hasidic folktale I read in Jane Yolen's introduction to her Favorite Folktales from Around the World (10, and if you're reading this, hello Jane Yolen!). It begins "Whenever misfortune threatened the Jews, [the Rabbi] would retreat to the forest, light the fire, say the prayer and the misfortune would be avoided." One by one, the place in the forest, the lighting of the fire and the prayer are forgotten; only the story remains, "and it [is] sufficient." I like this story for the power of story it conveys (obviously), also the preservation and loss of knowledge across generations, the repeating structure of threes. Actually, I'm in the exciting early stages of working on a retelling of it.

The first place to look for sources and variants would be Janeís (Yolenís? I donít know how formal to be, here; this is my first postÖ) anyway, Janeís reference to a 1978 article by John Shea in Commonweal. Iím between university libraries at the moment, though, and since Jane mentions the existence of many retellings of this story, I was hoping to find some direction here. Does this story sound familiar to anyone?

Thanks already and in advance.
Best, Anamaria.

janeyolen
Registered User
(9/3/03 1:09 am)
Re: Sources and variants of Hasidic tale
Yes I AM here and reading. Jane will do nicely, thanks.

But "here" is Scotland, away from all my files and notes on that book. I think, however, that everything I knew about the story is in the book. However, since then I have written the story (it obssesses me, too) as a short fiction and as a picture book. I think the former has been sold b ut since I've heard nothing from the editor of the anthology for over a year, am wondering.

Jane

AnamariaAnders
Registered User
(9/3/03 8:28 pm)
Re: Recommended reading in Jewish folktales?
Thanks, Jane. Iím making my way through some collections of Jewish folktales (Yiddish Folktales, ed. Weinreich, from the same Pantheon series as your book; some of Howard Schwartzís collections; and Isaac Bashevis Singerís Stories for Children. Additional recommendations most welcome...) and havenít come across this particular story yetóbut am familiarizing myself with the tradition itís part of, its vocabulary and logic. Mine is also a picture book version. Looking forward to reading yours!
Best, Anamaria.

judithwq
Registered User
(9/8/03 7:24 pm)
hasidic tale
Are you thinking of the story in which the original rabbi knows how to go out into the forest, where the ecret spot is, how to light the fire, say the particular words, and then after he dies the successive generations forget one aspect of the ritual but still god hears the prayers and responds to the people's needs? I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think this story may originate with the Baal Shem Tov, with him being the original rabbi. That the original rabbi went out to the forest is a clue it is from the early hasids, as they worshipped in nature. the Baal Shem Tov may have been the first. Or it may have been Rabbi Nachman of Breslev.

janeyolen
Registered User
(9/9/03 1:37 am)
Re: hasidic tale
Judith--it IS a Bal Shem Tov story, as stated within the text of the tale. (Which, of course, you don't have in front of you so how could you possibly know?)

The question I think is being asked is whether there are several versions or not, and that is what I can't say without my notes in front of me. We could use all the help we can get.

Jane

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