The Wedding

One night the Rebbe Naphtali was on the road to Kozhenitz. In the inn where he had stopped to rest, a wedding was in full swing; the men and women were drinking and eating and singing. Only the Bride was sad, terribly sad. Rebbe Naphtali, who was travelling incognito, wanted to console her. "Why are you sad?" he asked her. "Because," she answered, " there is something missing in this wedding, something essential to make it festive and joyous. A jester! There is no jester here to make us laugh-- that's why I am sad." "Is that all?!" the Rebbe creid out. "Then stop being sad! For the heavens, may they be blessed, have forseen this possibility. They have sent me here tonight to dispell your sadness, for I am a badkhan by profession, a troubadour and jester-- a wedding specialist!"

And he began to compose rhymes about the company, the inkeeper, the rabbi, and the canto. And he did with so much talent, so much humor, that all the guests fell under his spell and responded by laughing loud and hard. And the bride, too, was amused. To make her even happier, he sang with great exhuberance and told funny stories-- and danced.

All around the table the guests were shaking with laughter, and up there, in paradise, the sages and the saints, sitting around their Master and ours, interrupted their studies and listened, and laughed. And angels forgot their nocturnal missions and flapped their wings and laughed, and laughed. And in the palace of the heavenly tribunal, the judges stopped judging and sentencing, for the prosecutor had stopped prosecuting, and they too, could not resist laughter.

The Supreme Judge himself stopped receiving His servants prayers and litanies, including the tears of the holy Maggid of Kozhenitz-- for He, too, was listening to the funny stories of Rebbe Naphtali. And He, too, was laughing, He was laughing...

Later the Maggid of Kozhenitz would say this to his friend and disciple: "Naphtali, Naphtali, are you aware of your own strength? What I cannot accomplish with my tears, you accomplish with laughter!"

For the entire night, the celebrated Maggid of Kozhenitz; of whom it was said to have such powers that he could be denied nothing in the higher speheres if he just prayed, closing his eyes and whispering if it was a simple request, stayting up very late at night surrounded by silence and solitude if it was difficult; the entire night his forhead covered in ashes, in his eyes-- flames from the destruction of the Temple burning brightly, cried loudly with a request, tears pouring from his cheeks. For the entire night, and only this one night... he was ignored...