Folktales & Stories

Learn some popular Kabbalistic and Chasidic tales.

Avoiding the Mud: A Classic Hasidic Folktale

By Rami Shapiro

Sound advice from both a poor Rabbi and a rich Rabbi in this classic Chasidic folktale about how to avoid sticky, er, muddy situations. A great introduction to the form, a humorous fable and a wonderful bedtime story to boot.

This folktale has 18th-century Eastern European origins and was adapted by MJ Kaufman from “Avoiding the Mud” by Rabbi Rami Shapiro in Hasidic Tales: Annotated & Explained.

This short animated video was inspired by participants at “Pitchfest: Jewish Stories go Hollywood!” a session presented at Tribefest in Las Vegas and sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America. The short was brought to life with generous support from The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of the East Bay and conceptualized by participants representing the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, Jewish Federation of Ottawa, and The Federation Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) of Montreal.

Many thanks to the Animators, Directors, Translators, Educators, Funders, Musicians, Producers, Distributors, Writers and Narrators of this animated short including Barbara Barza, J Michael Collins, Talia Davis, Daniel Dorse, Stephanie Finkelstein, Howard Freedman, Frank Guida, Julie Greenspoon, Sarah Kashinsky, MJ Kaufman, Sarah Lefton, Sean Mandell, Rabbi Daniel Roth, Matthue Roth, Jeremy Shuback, Eric Elkins, Esther Kustanowitz, Jeanne Stern, Colin Willsher, and Alessandra Wollner.

The Wise Have Eyes

By Jacqueline Nicholls, Jewlia Eisenberg, and Sarah Lefton

This musical Kabbalah piece titled The Wise Have Eyes is an interpretation of a mystical tale from the Zohar known as The Parable of the Maiden (or Sava de-Mishpatim).

The Wise Have Eyes was created by Jacqueline Nicholls, Jewlia Eisenberg and Sarah Lefton in chavruta (חַבְרוּתָא “partnership”), a traditional approach to study in which partners analyze, discuss, and debate a shared text. San Francisco Bay Area-based singer and songwriter, Jewlia Eisenberg wrote the song and music you hear and London-based fine artist Jacqueline Nicholls drew and filmed the drawings. BimBam’s founder Sarah Lefton was the project’s producer.

This song and film were adapted from the Kabbalah’s foundational text, the Zohar II: 94b-95a – the section known as Sava de-Mishpatim, or Saba de-Mishpatim if you like. To read a beautiful translation of the source, visit (this excerpt), from Skylight Paths Publishing’s Zohar: Annotated & Explained translated and annotated by Daniel Chanan Matt and edited by Andrew Harvey.

The artists were each deeply challenged by this difficult text, taking it up with enthusiasm, wrestling with it, putting it aside and re-engaging together over several months. They did not agree about everything in the story – in the song, or in the art, and yet after this collaboration together they are each so proud of the extensive facets of meaning you’ll uncover in The Wise Have Eyes.

Read the artist statements

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Wise Have Eyes Lyrics

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The Mountain & The Cliff: A Short Chasidic Tale on Giving

By Lauren Flans

This is a modern take on a classic short Chasidic tale about giving, parenting, family and asking for help. It was collaboratively created through voting and volunteer participation at a 48-hour film jam by participants at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) 2013 International Conference in Los Angeles.

Thank you to our animators, volunteers, producers, funders and sound engineers who taught the BimBam team that together we really can move mountains. Additional thanks to Ami Aronson, Elias Avedon, Jonathan Bayer, Scott Berrie, Decibelle Studios, Sharon Elswit, David Ezer, Lauren Flans, Felicia Herman, Rabbi David Holtz, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, James Kellert, Sarah Lefton, Andrew Lewtin, Jewish Funders Network, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Rafi Rone, Peninnah Schram, Scott Shafrin, Jeremy Shuback, Jeanne Stern, David Werdiger and JJ Wiesler.

How was this short made? Watch a behind the scenes clip.

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