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.
JJTP 22 (2014)