"But i will tell of their deeds": Retelling a hasidic tale about the power of storytelling

Levi Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A famous Hasidic tale that depicts the decline of mysticism in Hasidic circles also bespeaks the power of storytelling. This study tracks the metamorphosis of this classic tale over a century of its retelling by writers - including Martin Buber, S. Y. Agnon, Gershom Scholem, Walter Kaufmann, Elie Wiesel, and Abba Kovner - who each fashioned the tale in their own image. These authors affirmed but also challenged the tale's message about the efficacy of storytelling. The use of the tale in Passover celebrations and other contemporary trends are also considered. The question is raised as to whether transmitters have a duty of care not to corrupt the story.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-163
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 27 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Besht
  • Gershom Scholem
  • Haggadah
  • Hasidic tales
  • Israel of Ruzyn
  • Martin Buber
  • S. Y. Agnon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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