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STORY

The Horse that Prayed By Dov Shalem

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nce there was a small town in Eastern Europe name Homel. There was one shul and the local townsmen would come each day and pray. They were simple folk and they liked to pray with feeling and HPRWLRQ7KHLUWHÀORVZHUHODGHQZLWK singing and even spontaneous dance. They enjoyed meeting in the small shul and their prayers were always a joyous celebration. However, there were some men who disliked their mode of worship. They insisted that the proper PDQQHU RI WHÀORK DV GLUHFWHG E\ WKH authoritative Code of Jewish Law demanded that decorum be observed. They fought that the shul prayer services should be arranged according to the clock in order to enable the townsmen to complete their prayers in an orderly fashion so they could go to work without undue delay. 7KLVVHFRQGJURXSÀQDOO\SUHYDLOHG on the tiny shul and they forbid the impromptu singing and dancing that had marked the joyous services. Now WKH WHÀORV ZHUH FRQGXFWHG DFFRUGLQJ to a set pattern. They would begin at a certain time and each prayer took D VSHFLÀHG PHDVXUHG WLPH ,Q WKLV PDQQHU WKH WHÀORV ZHUH YHU\ RUGHUO\ DQGWKHVHUYLFHÀQLVKHGDWWKHSUHFLVH moment. 7KH ÀUVW JURXS WKH PHQ ZKR enjoyed the spontaneous prayers, were downtrodden. They just could not manage to pray in the constriction of timed prayer without the joyous,

impromptu outbursts of soulful song. They wrote a letter to the illustrious Rav, the Dubno Magid, who was known for his power of speech. The Dubno Magid was wont to travel from community to community and tell stories that had deep moral messages. When he received this communication from the depressed men of Homel, he decided to visit the town. After spending a few days in the town and davening at the tiny synagogue, he announced that he would give a speech after the evening prayers. The small synagogue was jam-packed. Everyone turned out to hear the famed Rav speak. The Dubno Magid ascended the podium and began addressing the crowd. “A hundred years ago, several wealthy gentile land-owners made a hunt together. They spent the day chasing after wolves and foxes. After an exhausting day, one of the landowners invited the rest of the participants to come to his house for a festive meal commemorating a successful hunt. The men obliged. The landowners began eating a festive meal and drinking wine. They began recalling the pleasures of the hunt. Each one was bragging about their part in the hunt and how well they had done. Soon the men were reveling in their overindulgence in wine. Each man tried to outdo the other. Finally one tipsy landowner stood

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up and began to brag about his Jewish worker. “My Yaankel is such a smart Jew. You know that I don’t have to do anything. He comes in and does everything. He runs my farms and balances my books. When I go back, I know that everything will be taken care of perfectly!â€? The next landowner, not to be outdone, jumped to his feet and exclaimed, “My Mendel is even better. He does everything that your Yankel does, and even more. No matter how bad things go in my businesses, somehow he balances the books so WKDW,PDNHDSURĂ€W,GRQ¡WNQRZKRZ he does it, but he does it!â€? Each person began bragging about their Jewish workers who labored KDUG DQG ORQJ WR PDNH ELJ SURĂ€WV for the wealthy landowners while receiving only a pittance in exchange. Finally, the host, who was quite tipsy, stood up and said, “My Moshe is everything that your Jew-boys are, PLUS! He is so smart that he could do anything I ask him to do. Why, he could even train a horse to pray!!â€? The rest of the men disagreed. No one could train a horse to pray. No, that they refused to accept. “I will bet each of your 2000 Rubles, (a large sum of money) that he can do it!â€? The men smiled at each other. This looked too good to be true. Two thousand rubles? It’s a bet! The drunken landowner ordered that Moshe and a horse be brought in. “Moshe, I have bet these gentlemen a

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