Maybe the ultimate strength of Stories is their unique ability to wrangle with the soul
There are stories and there are Stories, and the difference between the two is as simple as it is enigmatic.
While stories can be summed up as words strung into sentences that spin into paragraphs, Stories are something else entirely. Narratives that manage to cut straight to the heart are timeless — these are the Stories that remain hovering somewhere inside you for eternity, canonized for generations to come. These are the Stories you tell over campfires summer after summer. The ones written without adornment, they shine without cheap gimmicks or gaudy trimmings. These are the Stories that hold up a mirror, reveal passion long buried, tilt you sideways so you see the world in a different light. These are the Stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, stitched from some inner mettle to create a fabric sturdy enough to carry us through hard times.
But maybe the ultimate strength of Stories is their unique ability to wrangle with the soul, stir it up, urge it to remember things you thought you’d lost forever. Their power is unquantifiable.
And yet not all stories have the ability to move a person; that brilliant shift happens only when the author finds a way to step inside the structure of character arcs, grammar, dialogue, and releases some magic hewn from life itself, translating those ambiguous sparks into a tapestry on paper. The secret difference between stories and Stories is that bit of soul injected into the words; just enough flint to set them ablaze.
Wooden boards topped with bamboo mats or patches of dried fronds; a formula as simple as it is enigmatic. The secret of the Succah doesn’t lie within its physical structure. It’s not the adornments, not the lulav and esrog project from Morah Sari’s playgroup thumb-tacked to the wall, not the diamond art Ushpizin, not even the hand-crafted napkin rings that set our succahs alight. It’s the holy souls of Klal Yisrael; the moment we step inside, our inner sparks set those little huts glowing, lifting them from mere wood to something that floats high above nature itself. The mixture of Succah and soul; its power is unquantifiable.
May the Stories we create this Yom Tov be spun of gold and filled with soul, to be told and retold for years to come.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 931)
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