Two people came to Rebbe Yisroel Rizener: one, a storyteller who had written a book of stories, and the other, a great scholar who had written great treatises on halacha [Jewish law]. So the shames [beadle / secretary] asks the Rizener who he wants to see first. The Rebbe says, “I want to see the storyteller first.” The secretary was really astounded that the Rebbe would call in this storyteller in preference to this great scholar, but he didn’t say anything. So he ushers in the little storyteller, and the Rebbe looks at his book and says, “Oh, this is such a beautiful story, it’s the greatest story I ever read. The story is really holy.” Then the Rebbe asks to see the scholar, and his great treatise on halacha. He is looking at the book and he says. “Oh, this is so deep, it is really from Mt. Sinai.” Then they both leave, and the secretary comes in and asks, “I don’t understand it. Here is a great scholar who has studied many years, and he is one of the greatest men, and you ask him to come in second. First you speak with the storyteller?”
“So,” the Rebbe says, “I’m just doing it the way HaShem did it in the Torah. First HaShem was telling stories – He told the story of creation, the story of the flood, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The story of slavery, the story of redemption, and then He led us to Mt. Sinai. After He told us all these stories, He gave us the Laws.”
Tell G-d your story
Rebbe Nachman says, G-d created man because He loves stories. The whole world is G-d telling a story. G-d is telling us stories, creating the world, creating people, telling long stories. There is such a thing as prayer, which is very deep, but, Rebbe Nachman says, prayer is not the deepest depths of closeness to G-d. The deepest depths of closeness to G-d is when you can tell G-d your story.
The Tree of Knowledge is theories, and the Tree of Life is stories.
Everything we understand comes from our consciousness. Where do stories originate? Imagination. The truth is, the story comes from beyond my consciousness, but it flows into my consciousness. The story itself is really beyond.
You know, my beautiful friends, the older you get the less stories you tell. Have you ever noticed, people don’t tell stories anymore. You know, for me, a young person is somebody who is telling stories. An old man is somebody who stopped telling stories long ago.
Rebbe Nachman says that when you dream, you always dream stories, not theories. When your imagination is completely free, then you dream stories.
When people sit and tell each other stories, they really become friends.