There is a story about some jealous angels
who are asked to hide the spark of the Divine in the world.
"Let's put it atop the highest mountain," offers one.
"No," say another," the Human is very ambitious. He will find it there."
"Well then, let's bury it beneath the deepest sea."
"That won't work either," another chimes in. "The Human is very resourceful. She will even find it there."
After a moment's thought the wisest angel says, "I know. Put it inside the Human heart. They will never look there."
After many years of great poverty that had never shaken his faith in G!d, Rabbi Eizik dreamed that someone told him to look for a treasure in Prague, under the bridge that leads to the king's palace.
When the dream occurred a third time, Rabbi Eizik set out for Prague. But the bridge was guarded day and night and he did not dare start digging Nevertheless, he went to the bridge every morning and kept walking around it until evening.
Finally the guard, who had been watching him, asked in a kindly way whether he was looking for something or waiting for somebody. Rabbi Eizik told him if the dream that had brought him here from a faraway country.
The guard laughed: "And so because of a dream, you wore out your shoes to come here! As for having faith in dreams, if I had had it, I once had a dream that told me to go to Cracow and dig for treasure under the stove in the room of a Jew - Eizik, son of Yekel, that was the name! Eizik, son of Yekel! I can just imagine what it would be like, how I should have to try every house over there, where one half of the Jews are named Eizik and the other Yekel!"
As he laughed again. Rabbi Eizik excused himself, traveled home, dug up the treasure from under his own stove, and used the treasure to build the House of Prayer that is called "Reb Eizik Reb Yekel's Shul."
"Take this story to heart," added Buber, and make what it says your own. "There is something you cannot find out there in the world... there is a place within yourself where you can find it."
A troubled widower made his way to ask a wise old woman about his troubles.The old woman received him and they walked along a stream. She could see the pain in his face.
He began to tremble as he asked, "What's the point? Is there any meaning to life?"
She invited him to sit on a large stone near the stream. She took a long branch and swirled it in the water, then replied, "It all depends on what it means to you to be alive."
In his sorrow, the man dropped his shoulders and the old woman gave him the branch.
"Go on," she said, "touch the branch into the water." As he poked the branch in the running stream, there was something comforting about feeling the water in his hand through the branch. She touched his hand and said, "You see, that you can feel the water without putting your hand in the water, this is what meaning feels like."
The troubled man seemed puzzled.
She said, "Close your eyes and feel your wife now gone. That you can feel her in your heart without being able to touch her, this is how meaning saves us."
The widower began to cry. The old woman put her arm around him,
"No one knows how to live or how to die. We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.
Mullah Nasruddin was resting under the shade of a tall and luscious walnut tree. As he sat daydreaming, he noticed huge pumpkins growing on delicate vines snaking across the ground. Then he looked up and squinted to see the tiny walnuts growing on the magnificent tree. “How strange mother nature is,” he thought, “to make plump pumpkins grow on spindly vines while little walnuts have their own impressive tree.”
Just then, a walnut fell from above and landed with a ‘tock’ on Mullah Nasruddin’s head. The mullah rubbed his sore head, picked up the fallen walnut, and looked high up towards the branches of the tree. Then, he looked over thankfully at the swollen pumpkins growing safely on the ground.
“Oh mother nature, you are wise!
Once a samurai came to the Zen master Hakuin and asked, “Master, tell me, what's the difference between heaven and hell?”
The master, found meditating on his matted floor, was quiet for some time. At last he slowly turned and gazed at the man. He asked, "Who are you?"
“I am a samurai swordsman and a member of the emperor’s personal guard.”
“You call yourself a samurai warrior?” said Hakuin doubtfully. “Look at you, what kind of emperor would have you for a guard? You look more like a beggar!”
“That?” the samurai shot back, growing red in the face. He reached for his sword.
“Oho!” said Hakuin. “So you have a sword, do you! I bet you couldn't cut off the head of a fly with that."
The samurai could not contain himself. He drew his sword from its sheath and lifted it above the head of the old mon
Hakuin responded quickly, “That sir, is the gate to hell.”
The samurai slowly lowered his sword, put it back in its sheath, and bowed.
“And that,” said the master, "is the gate to heaven."
Mark Novak is co-founder of The MultiFaith Storytelling Institute