Music stories have been following me around lately. Here is an old Hasidic story I recently read.
The great Hasidic rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov, was traveling with a group of his followers. They stopped for a drink at a tavern. While they were drinking, a group of local rabblerousers entered the tavern, looking for trouble, maybe some Jews to bully and rough up. The Baal Shem Tov sat a young boy from among his followers on the bar and ordered him, “Sing Boy.” The boy chanted a “nigun” (a wordless melody). The Baal Shem Tov and his followers clapped along and soon began chanting as well. In no time flat, the local rabblerousers clapped along too, then joined in with the singing, then danced, until the two groups, brought together inside the music, had a jolly time.
The young boy grew up and became a merchant. One day he was traveling with a large wagon full of goods when he was ambushed on the road by a band of thieves armed with guns. The leader of the thieves was frightening, clearly vicious, and obviously dangerous. He had his gun trained on the merchant, and then he recognized him. “Sing Boy,” he commanded the merchant. The merchant sang the same wordless nigun that he had sung all those years ago as a young boy in the tavern.
The leader of the thieves had been in that tavern on that night when the Baal Shem Tov’s followers and the rabblerousers had danced and sang. The leader of the thieves ordered his much-surprised gang to let the merchant pass in peace and safety.