Who were the ancient Jewish storytellers that took to heart this teaching: “Do you desire to know the Blessed Holy One Who Spoke the World Into Being? Learn Aggadah…”. What stories did they tell? What stories do we want to tell? Come join this workshop dedicated to the mythic grandeur and spiritual audacity of Judaism’s creative storytelling imagination.
In this class we will explore our heritage of stories and make visible the ways storytellers have always bundled old images and bold new themes together. In addition, we will experience the oral tradition by telling stories. Using playful prompts and creating safe story circles our work will be structured as a story-arts workshop. Our goal will be imagining the role stories and storytellers have played in the past, present and future. Together, we seek to bring to life Reb Nachman’s passionate declaration, “The time for telling stories has come!”
Let’s start with the word angel. What image is conjured first in your mind’s eye? For me, growing up in suburban Detroit, gentle fluffy angels come to mind. Lots of marshmallow and cotton ball wings, everything sweet, nice and helpful. But wait, let’s not stop at the first image- we are storytellers after all. Let’s keep imagining and then let’s dig into the mythological grandeur of our tradition’s creative storytelling imagination. What might we find here?
Maybe you’ve heard of the fiery angels, the Seraphim? Burning with passion for the Holy One. The Rabbi’s honored them by bringing them into our prayers. But as we know, when it comes to our tradition of images, there is ample room for all. In fact, in just one epic journey of Moshe’s, from the burning bush up to the heavenly realms (the Rabbi’s are clear that there are 7 heavenly realms- integrating the new science of Ptolemy into their stories- gotta love ’em, eh?), he met an astounding cornucopia of angels. Here’s just one from the 3rd Wondrous Realm corresponding with the 3rd day of creation…
Our angel is so tall… it would take 500 years to walk up to it’s shoulders. Once there, we would find 70,000 heads. On each head… 70,000 mouths. In each mouth… 70,000 tongues. On each tongue… 70,000 songs (some say words), one for each flower in every field, for each bud on every tree and one for each herb of the field.
But wait, we are not done yet. Remember those fiery angels? Not the half snowy ice and half fire angels from the first wondrous realm- but the angels of pure fire. It turns out myriads and myriads of these fiery angels deliver these songs of blessing, one song per angel, to our world and then they race back as fast as they can to join the continual chorus of joy, singing “How Glorious is this World!” (adapted from Moshe’s ascent to the heavenly realm found in Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews)
I hope to see you at the Kallah where together we’ll seek to bring to life Reb Nachman’s passionate declaration, “The time for telling stories has come!”
Blessings in story and image,
Editor’s note: Listen to Maggid David tell The Birth of Love, a story made from Midrash:
Maggid David (Mah-geed; storyteller) is dedicated to celebrating Judaism’s storytelling heritage and renewing Judaism’s ancient environmental wisdom. He has over 20 years experience teaching, performing stories and leading workshops. David loves sharing the contemporary relevance of Jewish mythology and mysticism with the goals of enriching our spiritual imagination, connecting with the land, and most importantly, finding our own paths within Judaism’s vast and wondrous landscape. To find out more please visit: www.maggiddavid.net,.