Der Apikoyrus Rebbe

RABBI AKIVA TATZ IS A turned-on guy whose shiurim (lectures) are ripe with mystic but rational Torah learning. R’Tatz tells a wonderful story about apikorsim (singular “apikorus,” from the Greek “Epicurean;” one who disbelieves the divine origin of Torah and the rabbis’ interpretations thereof). I couldn’t find it anywhere on the ‘Net and don’t remember which specific shiur it’s from, but here’s the gist:

A young Jew once found himself possessed of unassailable doubts about Torah and decided that he was an apikorus. A good friend of his, knowing that the young man was not one to do anything by half-measures, advised him to seek out the Apikorus Rebbe.

“There’s an Apikorus Rebbe?” asked the young doubter.

“Oh, yes. He’s famous. And you can’t be a proper apikorus without his guidance.”

So the young man set off to find the Apikorus Rebbe, who lived in [insert heavily 0 community here]. He arrived one late Friday afternoon and was directed by a passerby to the Apikorus Rebbe’s house. Knocking at the door, he was surprised to find it answered by a woman wearing a sheitel [wig] and long dress. The heady aromas of Jewish comfort food warmed his nostrils and confusion.

“Excuse me, but I’m looking for the Apikorus Rebbe,” he said.

“Oh, he’s at the mikveh,” the woman answered. “He’ll be home after ma’ariv [evening services]. Do you have a place for Shabbos? Would you like to join us?”

So the young man entered, noting with perplexity the spotless white tablecloth, the shining brass candlesticks, the groaning bookcase filled with Torah, Talmud, Midrash and all the classics. His perplexity increased when, after a suitable interval, the Apikorus Rebbe appeared — dressed in shtreimel [big furry hat]and robe, with long peyos [sidelocks].

After a long and delicious Shabbos dinner (made longer by the Apikorus Rebbe’s insistence on singing every zemir in his well-thumbed benscher), the young man could no longer contain himself.

“Are you really the Apikorus Rebbe?” he asked.

“I am,” replied the great sage.

“But you live a traditional life,” the young man answered. “What makes you an apikorus?”

The Apikorus Rebbe pointed to a well-thumbed copy of Tao Teh Ching on the coffee-table.

“THAT’S IT?!?” cried the young man in astonishment. “That’s what makes you an apikorus? That’s nothing!”

“Well,” calmly replied the Apikorus Rebbe, “what would you do if you were an apikorus?”

“Anything I wanted!” said the youth. “I’d rob! I’d steal! I’d kill!”

“You’re not an apikorus,” said the sage. “You’re a pig.”

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