The Story of the Torah Tune
By Eliezer Cohen
The ta'am (melody) that the Torah is chanted in is a very
old and special melody. It has been handed down from generation
to generation. Its' roots are very deep. They are found in the mystical teachings
of our religion. Some times people want to be innovative, to create
a new melody. The following story is just that.
Once there was a secularist who was very good friends with the
Rav of the city. Even though this secularist differed in opinion
from his traditionally observant friends, he still visited his
old friend, the city Rav, on a regular weekly basis. On one visit,
the secularist, began to complain to the Rav about the unchanging
ways of the Traditional Jewry.
"...And why can't they update the tune to which the Torah
is chanted?" the secularist objected. "how many years
can you continue with the same old tune? Especially today when
so many new and beautiful musical tunes and melodies are being
brought into the world by inventive and creative composers. Answer
me that!" he demanded of the Rav.
"I'll have to think about it. Maybe you have a point. Perhaps
next week I'll be able to answer you, but for now could you do
me a big favor? I'm short of money and if you could loan me 50
rubles, I'll pay you back next week."
"Of course," the secularist said, honored that the Rav
would ask him for a loan. He reached into his purse, "here,
take this!" He handed over the money that the Rav requested.
Thanking him warmly, the Rav escorted him to the door and bid
The next week the secularist came at his customary tea time and
sat with the Rav, chatting amicably in the parlor. As the time
pressed on, the secularist felt uncomfortable because the Rav
had not offered to return him the money that he had lent to him
so willingly and with out a note. Finally as the secularist began
to leave, he turned to the Rav and said: "Pardon me for bringing this up, but did the Rav not promise to return today the 50 rubles
that he borrowed from me last week?
"I borrowed 50 rubles from
you?" was the Rav's surprised
"Yes, don't you remember? Last week when I was here. Before
I left!" the secularist exclaimed.
"I borrowed 50 Rubles from you?"
the Rav responded with indignation.
"But, but the Rav promised to return the money to me today,
and now you are denying that you even borrowed the money!"
the secularist cried out in pain at the Rav's breach of faith
and denial of the loan.
50 Rubles from you?"
the Rav raised his voice is dismay.
"Yes! How can you deny the good deed I did, loaning you the money.
Don't you remember we were chatting about the same old tune that
has been used for the Torah reading for so many years? You said
perhaps you would give me an answer this week and then you asked
to borrow 50 rubles. And now you deny it!
"Who me? The Rav asked as he broke into a gentle grin, "I'm
not denying anything, I said "I borrowed 50 Rubles from you"
I just changed the tune of my statement!
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from the November, 1997 Edition of the Jewish Magazine