You choose the meaning!


Life presents us with stories, experiences, sets of circumstances . . . and then we have to decide what meaning to assign to the story or experience. For example, in his introduction to Hasidic Tales Annotated & Explained, Rabbi Rami Shapiro tells this story about the Ropchitzer Rebbe, who was a very holy man, a master of hesed:

One evening, [the Ropchitzer Rebbe] and his disciples were dancing.  Suddenly, the old Rebbe raised his arms with an expression of great pain on his face.  His disciples noticed that he was suffering and stopped dancing.  This made the old Rebbe furious and he cried out, stamping his feet, “Does an army stop the struggle when a general dies?  Keep dancing, keep dancing!”  It was only a few days later that the disciples learned that an old friend of the Rebbe’s, the Kamarner Rebbe, had died at the very moment the Ropchitzer Rebbe had raised his arms. 

From that story, we can:
(1)   hear that disciples are not to stop dancing when their Rebbe stops dancing;   
(2)   hear that one holy man felt the death of another holy man but call it a simple coincidence because it is frighteningly beyond rational comprehension;
(3)  hear that one holy man felt the death of another holy man and find therein affirmation that the Many really, truly are all still part of the One.

None of those interpretations is “wrong;”  they are just different levels of analysis, different kinds of meaning that can be assigned to the same set of facts.

Nevertheless, I can tell you:  Life is a lot more beautiful if you can allow yourself to acknowledge the third interpretation!!  

Enjoy your day! 

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