Nearly twenty-five years ago, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, may his memory be a blessing, shared with Richard Stone a tale about the Baal Shem Tov and a disciple who went on to become a Maggid—a travelling preacher and storyteller. This story continued to percolate in Richard's soul until he recently wove it into the screenplay that is the source for this 1-hour performance. We hope that this tale will spark something in you too, deepening your connection with all that is mysterious and holy.
Original music composed and performed by Reuben Haller
Richard has been working with stories for nearly 30 years, writing fiction and non-fiction; developing story-based products, games, and training tools; exploring how story can help others illuminate what is most authentic in their souls; painting; exploring the mysteries of trees through his photography; and, telling stories. He is the author of The Healing Art of Storytelling, Stories: The Family Legacy, The Kingdom of Nowt, and The Patient Survival Handbook and co-created the award-winning board game Pitch-A-Story. Currently he is working on a new book, The Seven Powers of Story, to be released in 2020. He is also an artist and photographer, and now lives with his wife Elizabeth Cohen in Decatur, Georgia. You can learn more about Richard and his work at www.storywork.com and www.richardstoneart.com.
Israel ben Eliezer, better known as the Baal Shem Tov, also known as the Besht was born in 1698 and died in 1760. He was a Jewish mystic whom many regard as the founder of the Hasidic movement. Translated, his name means "Master of the Good Name." Most of what we know about the Besht comes down through oral stories about him and his many deeds. When these oral tales were first collected in Shivhei ha-Besht (In Praise of the Baal Shem Tov), people didn't quite know what to make of them. Rebbe Shlomo Rabinowicz of Rodomsk declared, "Whoever believes all the miracle stories about the Baal Shem Tov...is a fool, but whoever denies that he could have done them is an apikoros [a heretic]." One thing is for certain, his stories and their lessons still reverberate to this day. While his teachings stressed the spirit,more important to him than prayer was a friendly relationship with sinners. Unselfishness and high-minded benevolence are a motif in the legends about him. It was also believed that the Besht's soul had reached such a high level he could "ascend" to heaven and speak with any soul there and intervene between humans and God.
You get a resounding bravo from me for your writing and portrayal of the Maggid. Just a great evening.
What a treat to experience your wonderful storytelling, more like a prayer for me. Powerful and of course meaningful.
I was privileged to attend The Maggid on March 30th. Richard Stone's writing and performance were brilliant. He is a great storyteller and his delivery about stories of the Baal Shem Tov touched me deeply. Many of us look to the Baal Shem Tov for wisdom. I highly recommend attending a performance if you are seeking an evening of joy, truth and wisdom.
Dr. Alan Smolow
I never had much exposure to Hasidic stories about The Baal Shem Tov - so I really enjoyed it and the metaphysical nature of the story. I enjoyed the way you weave a story! It connected me to a tradition that my Reformed Jewish upbringing did not provide me!
I was sitting in a position that gave me a great view of the audience’s faces last night. Every single face I saw looked mesmerized. I was greatly moved and entertained.
Wonderfully executed stories faithfully and artfully recounted by a dramatic wordsmith.
Here's a short sampling from the debut performance of The Maggid.
The Maggid: Divine Sparks and Tales of the Baal Shem Tov has been developed into a feature-length screenplay. We are currently seeking partners and exploring how to bring this seminal story to a broader audience. We welcome inquiries.
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