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Stories We Tell: Moishe's Song

Stories We Tell: Moishe's Song

Rabbi Rachel Heaps

Judaism has a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, of passing down stories from one generation to the next. To carry on that tradition, Stories We Tell, from, will share a new story with you every Thursday. Whether you listen while driving to work, preparing Shabbat dinner, or taking your kids to school, each episode will give you a new story to reflect on and discuss with the people in your life. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life.

Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head, that you just can’t get out? In “Moishe’s Song” Rabbi Rachel Heaps shares the story of Moishe’s melodic malady, and how his son’s love led to a beautiful cure and an important lesson.

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[URJ Intro] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast presented by Judaism has always had a rich tradition of passing our stories down from one generation to the next. And this week we hear a new story from Rabbi Rachel Heaps, the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Jeremiah, in Northfield, Illinois. Rabbi Heaps shares the story of Moishe's Song.

[Rabbi Rachel Heaps] It was Friday evening, and Moishe was going home for Shabbat. Every Friday, he would take the long route home through the woods and enjoy a little bit of nature before sitting down to dinner with his family. On this particular Friday, he was wandering through the woods and he heard a little melody. He wasn't sure what it was, but he wanted to try to find it. He wanted to try to learn it.

He would wander left and he would wander right. And, eventually, he got closer to a sound. A sound so beautiful that he couldn't help but stop and listen. It sounded like [SINGING]. Moishe kept wandering through the forest, trying to find this beautiful music, trying to find its source. He kept wandering and just kept hearing [SINGING].

Moishe wandered for so long that he eventually lost his way. He didn't know which way was home and which way was not. He didn't know which way was out of the forest and which way was deeper into the forest. He spent all night in the forest, singing the song to himself, and all alone in the dark. [SINGING]. He wandered all night long, and eventually he found his way out.

Eventually, he found his way back home. And, eventually, he found his way back to his family. That morning, his wife Rebekah and his son Benjamin came to him and saw him walking up the street. And he said, Moishe, where have you been? We've been so worried about you. We were expecting you for dinner. Where did you go?

Moishe wanted to tell them all about his experience in the forest, of getting lost and hearing the melody. But all he was able to say was [SINGING]. Rebekah was confused. What was Moishe trying to tell her with this melody? Benjamin wanted to tell his father all about starting Shabbat, of lighting the candles and eating the challah.

But every time Benjamin tried to tell him about what happened, all Moishe could say was [SINGING]. Every time Rebecca or Benjamin tried to have a conversation with Moishe, he just kept singing this song. Every time Rebecca or Benjamin wanted to talk to Moishe, all he could do was hum the song or sing the song. They never spoke. They never shared any words.

All Moishe was able to do was [SINGING]. Eventually, Rebecca didn't know what to do. She took Moishe to the doctor and told the doctor, I don't know what to do. Moishe just keeps singing the song. He hasn't spoken to us since Saturday. He hasn't spoken to us since he came out of the woods. The doctor asked Moishe what was wrong, tried to discover Moishe's symptoms.

And all Moishe could do was [SINGING]. Eventually, the doctor told Rebecca that he didn't know how to help Moishe. But there was a specialist in the next town over. The doctor suggested that Rebecca send Moishe over to that doctor. Rebecca packed Moishe's bag, called a cab, and prepared to send him up to the next town. Benjamin, wanting to say goodbye to his dad, stood holding the door.

And wanted to say all the things that Benjamin had been feeling. Wanted to say that he missed having long Shabbat conversations with his father. Wanted to say that he missed reading books with his father. But he didn't know if Moishe could understand a single word he said. So as Moishe was getting into the car, Benjamin opened his mouth and said [SINGING].

Moishe looked at his son, studied his face, and said, thank you, Benjamin. Benjamin was shocked. Dad, how is it that you're saying words? For so long, you were just singing this song. And Moishe told Benjamin all about his experience in the woods, of getting lost and hearing this most beautiful melody. So beautiful that he never wanted to forget it.

So he started singing it to himself. Sang it all throughout his journey through the forest. Sang it on his way home. And when he got back, to Rebecca and Benjamin. He looked at his son and said, I was worried I would forget the song. But now that I know that you know it too, we can sing it together.

[URJ Outro] After hearing the story of Moishe's Song, what is it that you're hoping to pass on from one generation to the next? If you'd like to share that with us, we'd love to hear about it on social media. You can find us at or on Twitter at Reform Judaism, and thanks for listening to Stories We Tell. If you enjoyed this week's story, please subscribe, and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can always find new episodes every Thursday on, and don't forget to visit to learn a little bit more about Jewish rituals or culture or holidays, and more. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life.

And until next week, l'hitraot.

Rabbi Rachel Heaps is an Assistant Rabbi at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Illinois. Ordained in May 2017, Rabbi Heaps seeks opportunities to connect congregants, which she often finds during times of “empty spaces.”