The Story-Teller and the Maggid

Mar 27th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
Some of my father’s favorite stories were about the years he spent as a Maggid. I had asked him where he found so many of the rare books in his library and he told me that his Rebbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zt”l, had sent him to small communities all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a Maggid. These communities could not afford to pay him to come and speak, so they allowed him to search through their piles of old books in lieu of payment. He would spend Shabbat with them as a Maggid.

There is a difference between a Maggid and a story-teller: A story-teller is just that, while a Maggid captures his audience with a story and then derives a powerful lesson and moral from the tale.

I remembered his stories about his days as a Maggid as I was wondering why we label the section of the Haggadah that “tells the story of the Exodus” as Maggid rather than Sippur, or story. This is the Haggadah’s way of reminding us that we cannot simply tell the story; we must apply its lessons as well.

No wonder when Isaiah (Chapter 41) repeatedly uses the word “Maggid,” he is describing someone who can speak of the future when telling his stories.

Our job is not to be story-tellers, but Maggidim. We must reflect on each detail of the story and apply its lessons and project the future.

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