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Strange Fire

Parshat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/torah_portion/article/strange_fire_20050401

The Chasidic Reb Nachman of Bratslav tells of a king's son who goes mad: he believes he is a turkey. The boy removes all his clothes, spends all his time under a table and refuses to eat normal food. Distraught and alarmed, his father summons in all manner of experts, but none can cure the boy. His tale of disappointment turns into a tale of revisioning and change: After a long time, a wise man arrives at the palace, and asks to see the prince. The wise man joins the boy under the table, and declares himself to be a turkey. Little by little, the two become comfortable with one another, and gradually the man encourages the turkey-prince to put on his clothes, then eat human food and finally to join the rest of the family. In this manner, the Chasidic master says, the wise man cures the prince.

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