The story is told of a very pious Jewish couple – they had married with great love and the love never died. Their greatest hope was to have a child so that their love could walk the earth with joy.
Yet there were difficulties. And since they were very pious, they prayed and prayed and prayed. Along with considerable other efforts, lo and behold the wife conceived and when she conceived, she laughed louder than Sarah when she conceived Isaac. And the child leapt in her womb more joyously than John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth when Mary visited her. And nine months later a delightful little boy came rumbling into the world.
They named their son Mordecai. He was rambunctious, zestful – gulping down the days and dreaming through the nights. The sun and the moon were his toys. He grew in age and wisdom and grace, until it was time to go to the synagogue and learn the Word of God.
The night before his studies were to begin, his parents sat Mordecai down and told him how important the Word of God was. They stressed that without the Word of God, Mordecai would be an autumn leaf in the winter’s wind – He listened wide eyed. Yet the next day he never arrived at the synagogue. Instead he found himself in the woods, swimming in the lake and climbing the trees.
When he came home that evening, the news had spread throughout the small village. Everyone knew of his shame. His parents were beside themselves – they did not know what to do.
So they called the behavior modificationists to modify Mordecai’s behavior, and the psychoanalysts to unblock his blockages – nevertheless he found himself the next day swimming in the lake and climbing the trees.
His parents grieved for their beloved son – there seemed to be no hope.
At this same time the Great Rabbi visited the village and the parents said –
“Ah! – Perhaps the Rabbi.”
So they took Mordecai to the Rabbi and told him their tale of woe. The Rabbi bellowed, “Leave the boy with me, and I will have a talking with him.”
It was bad enough that Mordecai would not go to the synagogue – but to leave their beloved son with this lion of a man was terrifying. However, they had come this far and so they left him.
Now Mordecai stood in the hallway, and the Great Rabbi stood in his parlor. He beckoned, “Boy, come here.” Trembling, Mordecai came forward.
And the Great Rabbi picked him up and held him silently against his heart.
His parents came to get Mordecai, and they took him home. The next day he went to the synagogue to learn the Word of God. And when he was done, he went to the woods. And the Word of God became one with the words of the woods, which became one with the words of Mordecai. And he swam in the lake. And the Word of God became one with the words of the lake, which became one with the words of Mordecai. And he climbed the trees. And the Word of God became one with the words of the trees, which became one with the words of Mordecai.
And Mordecai himself grew up to become a great man. People who were seized with panic came to him and found peace. People who were without anybody came to him and found communion. People with no exits came to him and found a way out. And when they came to him he said:
“I first learned the Word of God when the Great Rabbi held me silently against his heart.”