A Note on Chassidic Stories

As we embark on further telling the story of the Belz Chassidus, we need to take a moment to discuss Chassidic Stories in general.

Even before Chassidus, stories were an important Avoda. The Mesilas Yesharim writes in Chapter 21, that reading stories of the deeds of Tzadikim awakens in the mind the desire to become like them. This component is part of Chassidic Stories as well.

There is another aspect of Chassidic Stories, to bring us awe and humility of the other-worldliness of Tzadikim. Tzadikim are not just very righteous people, they are people who are fully dedicated to serving Hashem, and even when they are on this world, they are living in the other world.

The Stories that are within our realm of understanding, are important to tell, in order to bring out a love and aspiration to its virtues, as the Mesilas Yesharim writes. Stories that we don’t understand bring us awe and humility to worlds and levels that are much higher from where we are now.

People who are knowledgeable in Chasidic Stories detect similar themes and personalities in every Tzadik separately. They are able to ascertain if a story “makes sense” for a particular Tzadik, through the other stories known about that particular Tzadik.

The point is not necessarily that the story happened in those particular details. Since Chasidim retold the story generation after generation, it became a teaching onto itself and it is even more important than the actual event. Anomaly stories are more difficult to believe, but generally, as mentioned, stories have themes and ideas that unite them and are in line with the teachings in Seforim. Those stories are part of a true tradition and important to tell over, as we will do in the upcoming posts.