Today is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Jacob ben Wolf Kranz (1741-1804). He was known as the storyteller from Dubno a.k.a. “The Dubno Maggid.” This teacher is most famous for using stories to share very complex ideas in a simple way. He was a true scholar with a deep knowledge of the Torah, and would be able to explain difficult passages with his creative parables. The Dubno Maggid was so clever and quick with improvisation that if someone pointed to a random page of Torah, he would be able to invent stories on the spot! They don’t tell stories like that about anyone.
The most famous lesson of the Dubno Maggid is actually about the way in which he was able to come up with great stories in the first place.
Once upon a time, I was walking in the forest and I saw all these trees in a row with a target drawn on them, and an arrow right in the center. At the end of the row I saw a little boy with a bow in his hand I had to ask him, “Are you the one who shot all those arrows?!” “Of course!” he replied. “How did you hit all the targets right in the center?” I asked. “Simple”, said the boy, “first I shoot the arrow, and then I draw the target”.
The great Maggid would come up with the lesson of the story first, and then wrap the parable around that message.
Parsha in One Word:
Vayechi = “Family”
Meanwhile in Italy:
Also on this day in 1524, the organization of the Jewish community of Rome was approved by Pope Clement VII, who also supported the Jews against the Inquisition.
With gratitude to Manny Saltiel for sending out a weekly newsletter of Jewish history that helps inspire these thoughts. Also a big shout out to Wikipedia for all the endless blackholes of history.
Alex is the Operations Director at TJE. With a degree in History (B.A.) and a schmaltz in Judaism (N.J.B.), this weekly “Blast from the Past” is a fun way to combine and share how the past can inform our future.