A selection of short mystical stories in the style of Rav Nachman of Bratslav.




RODNEY THE HAMSTER


Every day, Rodney, the hamster, travels his wheel to nowhere. Do you think a hamster knows he is not traveling anywhere? Well, Rodney does, because once Rodney was someone else – he was a great rabbi.

This rabbi was an amazing Talmudic scholar. People used to travel from all around to hear him speak. However, one day the pride and power of the rabbi became too much and he slept with one of his pretty female congregants.
When word spread in the community, all hell broke loose. People could not believe that the rabbi was responsible for such a deed. On confronting the rabbi, he admitted his guilt. There was outrage. The rabbi was stripped of his noble title and was exiled to a far and distant land.

Whilst wandering in the desert, the rabbi did not want to live any more. There, sad and alone, the rabbi died of sorrow and pain. As the rabbi’s body lay there, WHOOSH! His spirit was engulfed by a passing hamster! The hamster soon became incredibly intelligent, and amongst other activities, built an intricate and ornate dwelling of inter-connecting tunnels and chambers.

Decades and many generations of hamster later, hunters were wandering through the desert. They were catching small rodents for the international pet market. One hamster find was a descendant keeper of the rabbis spirit!

Anyway, this hamster eventually ended up in the house of a young Jewish boy in North West London. After the novelty wearing off, the boy didn’t care for the hamster very much and it was left alone in a room at the bottom of the tall town house.

One day, the boy came and said hello to the hamster. He pursed his lips up onto the bars of the cage and made a kissing noise, calling the hamster. The hamster, so frustrated at his imprisonment and lack of attention, recoiled slowly. Suddenly, he flung himself forward, leaping into action. He tore into the lip of the boy and drew blood! The boy fell back shocked at this hamster assault.

The boy, after receiving an anally inserted tetanus for his rodent injury, decided (after consultation with his father) to make more effort with the hamster. The hamster was moved into the boy’s room, encouraging greater social contact. From then on, the boy enjoyed talking to the hamster every day and used to take him out and cuddle him. They built up a warm relationship and finally the hamster received a name. He was called Rodney.

Now the boy, as is the expectation of any Jewish boy pre-barmitzvah, had to attend Sunday religion school to learn the ways and customs of the Jewish religion. It was a chore for the boy but he grudgingly accepted it after some time. One day, as the boy arrived home from the school, he flung off his holy under-garment (known as a Tzitzit) after gaining freedom from religion school for another week. It was compulsory to wear such an uncomfortable garment for religion school. The string tassels of the garment fell near to the cage of the hamster. The hamster, spied this amazing incident and began to quietly reel in the garment through the bars of the cage when the boy had gone.
The hamster dragged the garment into the cage and fashioned it into a donut shaped bed. In the middle sat the hamster.

There, the hamster contemplated his feat. Finally, he was given the chance to fulfil a Torah prescribed mitzvah. He had been given one last opportunity to repent! Thus, the hamster died, content in his spiritual re-connection and finally at peace with his troubled soul.
The boy arrived to find the hamster and after a few tears, Rodney was given a fitting burial at the back of the garden.





THE FEAR


Rupert was a kind and honest lad; he loved animals and had a fat furry cat that loved to have its tummy tickled. He kept himself to himself much of the time. One of his enjoyable endeavours was painting. Dabbing and stroking a paintbrush across a canvas was one of the few times he felt liberated and animated – released from the manacles of daily life.
However, one day Rupert decided to read a book. This was not any old book; it was one that was passed down through many many generations of wise and learned men. It was a family heirloom.
The book was a big book. It not only had many pages but many words on a page. There were scribbles and notes from previous holders of the book all over the stained brown pages. It was, as if, in the multitude of pages and words lie even more pages and words; a never-ending sea of ideas and thoughts sprang out from the book. Rupert sat and looked and this old book, with loose spine and flayed edges. He looked at the words, he was astounded and came to realise that there were tiny worlds springing from each of the words as they contained an infinite number of meanings and interpretations. In Rupert’s mind, the worlds sprang out and danced around Rupert’s head, exploding and reproducing, popping and fizzing.

Rupert was enchanted with this book and as a result he read and re-read it often, soaking up its knowledge and holding it close to his heart.

However, one day Rupert began to shake. He had absorbed so much of the book’s knowledge that he felt funny. Rupert felt that as the book was describing the world and life in the world, it must have some practical need to it all. Rupert began to get scared. Was Rupert matching up to the lessons contained in the book?

The fear was born.

Suddenly, out of Rupert’s skin pores seeped a black mist. This mist engulfed poor Rupert, especially around his head. Now the fear followed Rupert wherever he went – on the bus, in bed, at the swimming baths and even into the bathroom. It just would not disappear.

Rupert did not know what to do. Whatever he tried, from using a flyswatter to shaving his hair did not remove the mist. Rupert was alarmed.

He was so alarmed that he was worried to go out. He was incredibly concerned that others would see the fear and run away. Now, Rupert – being bored at home having nothing to do, began watching television. He watched television day and night, from soap operas to home improvement programmes. He was hypnotized but in the end did not enrich his intellect very much.

One night, as Rupert sat and watched the television, someone walking on the street outside saw the mist. They were alarmed. So alarmed, that from them seeped the black mist! Someone else, parking their car, saw the mist and it oozed from that person too! This continued, until much of the world was walking around with the black mist (apart from a few ancient tribes isolated from the world). Nearly everyone was walking around in a black mist and there was much confusion.

There was so much confusion that some started believing anything, others believed someone who had strong beliefs, some more believed strange things that no-one else believed and even more did not believe anything – but sat around often arguing why they did not believe anything (most of the time no-one cared but themselves on what they said).

Rupert could see much of what was happening from the window behind his television. He sighed. After all the black mist had now spread and infected much of the world (even the woman with heavy make-up on the soap opera he was watching had mist all around her).

Rupert did not know what to do. He was just as confused as the rest of the world. He sat and ate his dinner.

Not before long, Rupert’s furry cat (known as Wilfred) entered the room with its tail swinging in the air. The animal rolled over onto the rug and began to clean its posterior with its leg splayed vertically toward the cieling. Suddenly, something caught Wilfred’s eye, his head fixed on the object – it was the black mist. Rupert, sighting the cat’s shift, began to attempt to dissuade Wilfred from coming near the black mist – Rupert was worried that the mist may do something harmful to the poor animal. Wilfred, however, had other plans. The cat locked backwards and struck an attack posture. Rupert began to panic. Suddenly, Wilfred leapt towards the black mist and Rupert froze in awe. The cat opened its mouth and engulfed the entire mist! Wilfred gulped and suddenly ballooned in size, bounced off the wall and floated around the room, oval shaped, with his stumpy little legs paddling for safety. Rupert was astounded and a morsel of dinner fell out his mouth. The cat had swallowed up the fear!

Not before long, word got around the world that pet cats could engulf the black mist. There was a sudden surge in cat demand and subsequent reproduction. Pet shop shares went sky high.
As a result, many pet cats could no longer live on the ground. They were held by leashes like shiny helium balloons with their owners catching the cat dropping in plastic bags (emergency parliamentary motion: failure to clear up the huge new problem of cat mess resulted in a £100 fine).

However, the spectre of the fear was gone, never again to concern mankind. The cat was elevated to a high position in society; it was worshipped as a god. As a result, cat priests were ordained and funds were funneled into building cat temples that were incredibly high and furry on the inside.

Rupert saw all of this and gave a long sigh. He looked at the old book that was still off his bookshelf and sitting under some papers and junk mail. If only I hadn’t read this book and started this mess, said Rupert to himself.

However, sayeth the narrator – religion is not designed to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable, said a famous sage.





ANDRE AND HIS CHICKEN SOUP


Andre was a special boy. When he moved away from home to study, his mother – a caring soul if there ever was one – gave him a large jar of chicken soup.

‘If you are ever going hungry, this will sort you out,’ she said.
His mother, for good measure, stuck a bright label on it – to remind Andre of the date and contents of the jar. This was a sensible thing to do, preventing Andre from eating something that was past its best.

Andre took it with him plus the many hopes and dreams he had of studying. On his journey, he sat and stared at the soup, it was full of different elements – lockshen (a white noodle like material), canedelach (unique fluffy balls made from matzo meal), all sorts of delicious vegetable pieces and some real and genuine chicken fragments. Even, if you were having a lucky day – there were a couple of bright yellow eggies. Andre used to like cutting these into quarters, to make these scrumptious morsels last even longer.

Anyway, Andre arrived at university and placed his large jar of chicken soup on a shelf in his fridge. There it sat, in case he ever got really hungry.

As time went on, Andre enjoyed his studies. However, he found that many people there did not have the same passion and zeal for learning. They were more interested in necking pints and writhing around sweaty boxes – poor excuses for night-clubs.
Andre was sad. He was made even more sad when he approached some of these individuals.
‘Hey, you have been studying Kafka…so why don’t you try cutting back on all the lies and deceit – all the nonsense and bullshit!’ This was something that Andre believed Kafka was vehemently opposed to.
All the individuals merely laughed in his face and Andre was rather upset.

Andre took off to wander the local town and there he met the ‘locals.’ Now whilst all these students lived in well-furnished apartments, with fine music systems and elegant clothes – the ‘locals’ lived in shabby, poverty stricken estates. Dogs barked all night and there was a large rat infestation.
‘How can you be forced to live like this?’ Andre asked a man with a badly stained vest top who was mumbling to himself.
‘We don’t have any choice my friend, most of the city funds goes on regenerating the city centre and university complex. We manage to scrape a living from whatever else there is.’ Said the poor man.

Andre was stunned. He decided to act. He marched straight back to his apartment and went to the fridge. There, standing tall and proud was his large jar of chicken soup. Andre reached out and grabbed it.
He poured the contents into a large bowl and left the empty jar on the table, with its lid unscrewed.

That night, as Andre lay in bed thinking about the injustice he had witnessed – something miraculous happened. Now this was not an everyday occurrence but, Andre had done something righteous and he had altered some sort of cosmic alignment. He was a mover and a shaker.
As the jar of chicken soup lay on the table, all of the pain, inequality, poverty and squalor was lifted up and was magnetized into the jar! Somehow, the empty jar filled up with all the negative energy in the town. The jar squeezed in as much as it could and once all in, the lid picked itself up and screwed back onto the rim.

The next morning, Andre arose from bed to discover the jar on the kitchen table. He saw that the lid had replaced itself and thought it strange. He looked even closer and saw the contents of the jar – a sort of pulsating and sparkling dense fog!
Andre was taken aback, but upon looking upon the lid at the bright label, he discovered a new entry.
‘Pain, inequality, poverty and squalor,’ read the label, with the date beneath – ‘5th September 2003.’
Andre was confused but he dare not open the jar, God only knows what might have happened.

Some time later, Andre decided to bury the jar – somewhere secluded, round the back of his apartments.
He telephoned his mother, asking for some more chicken soup and he received it. He received more and more and as he did so – the problems in the town began to subside, as all the negativity was gradually condensed and sucked into chicken soup jars.

Andre had so much chicken soup that he began to sell the stuff and soon, as everyone was enjoying the nutritious broth – the last patches of darkness were sucked into the jars.

There were many jars and if you visit the town today, you could easily stumble upon one – jutting just out of the earth in the ground. However, you are advised not to open it, if you do not wish to come upon suffering.

One day, Andre saw the students he had rebuked some time ago. ‘You see this town,’ he said, ‘how it has got better, well a little belief can go a long way.’ He added.

The students looked at him funny but Andre turned and strolled down the street, ignoring them. Andre was smiling, he was content with his place in the world and had his face in the sun.