Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tisha b'Av Prank

The Holy Ruzhiner (Chassidic master Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, 1797-1851) rejected all feelings of sadness, even of bitterness. So his chassidim would engage in all sorts of practical jokes on the Ninth ofAv (in order to mitigate the sadness of the day). They would throw burrs at each other. Then they conceived of the following prank: they opened a skylight in the roof of the study hall and dropped a snare; when someone walked into the study hall, they would yank on the rope so that the snare fastened itself around him, and pull him up to the roof.

It happened that the Ruzhiner himself walked in to the study hall. Those who were up on the roof could not see clearly who was coming in, so they pulled him up. To their dismay, they saw that they had pulled up theirrebbe! As soon as they recognized who it was, they let him down.

Cried out the Ruzhiner: "Master of the Universe! If Your children are not properly observing Your 'festival,' take it away from them!"


the sabra said...

Chassidic teaching differentiates between destructive sadness ("atzvut") which leads to depression and inertia, and a constructive "bitterness" ("merirut") that leads to soul searching and corrective action.

The Ruzhiner's approach, however, was that everything should be done with joy, and he rejected all forms of sadness and melancholy.

the sabra said...

Twas told by the Frierdiker Rebbe, this story.