There lived an educated old holy man in one settlement. He was a kind person, he read a lot and generously shared with seekers his knowledge and experience given him by God. He was called rabbi the teacher among the people. Everybody addressed to him respectfully. He liked to travel to the neighboring mountain villages, talk to its residents and became very glad finding people whom he could help. He was known everywhere, he was met with respect and honor, and his fame was always half a step ahead.
Once he set off for a distant settlement, and as soon as he appeared there a string of people started coming closer to him for their needs…And he prayed for ones, cured afflictions of the others, listened to the third and gave his advice to them.
Once a man came to him and said:
– Hello, My name is Fagir, and God sent you to me! For the first time in my life I have the opportunity to talk to the rabbi so much respected. And I do hope that you will help me solve the most serious problem of my life. I have a siddur¹, I read it every day, but I don’t know the sequence, I say prayers in a row. I had nobody to ask about it, what if I say prayers in the wrong way: for example, in the morning the prayers that should be said at night, and at night the ones that should be said during the daytime. Could you tell me how to say prayers properly, please?
– All right, – said the old holy man , – take a sheet of paper and write down.
The rabbi started speaking in details: what particular prayer to say and when, the man listened to him carefully and noted down everything, trying not to miss anything. When the old holy man finished up, the man thanked him and went home. Approaching his house, he realized that he had lost the sheet of paper, where the order of saying prayers was written, whether the wind blew that paper or anything else happened. Fagir went back to the old holy man. But, unfortunately, the old holy man had already left the village, and people said that he had gone towards the river.
The man did not waste time and ran after the old holy man, hoping to catch up with him. And when he was on a hillock, he saw the rabbi walk down to the river, pull out his handkerchief, throw it into the water, stand on it and get to the opposite bank. Then, without a second thought, Fagir ran up to the river, threw his handkerchief into the water, stood on it and crossed the river too. He went ashore and shouted:
– Hey, rabbi, rabbi, wait!
The old holy man was surprised: he had no idea what was going on and stopped:
– How did you get here?!
– The same like you did, swimming on a handkerchief.
–Well, why were you trying to catch me?
I’ve lost my sheet of paper where I had the order of prayers to say. Will you tell me it again?
The old holy man paused for a half of minute, then, he looked into the man’s eyes so that he could see directly the man’s soul, and said:
–Don’t you get it? The way you have been saying prayers all your life is not so important. Just keep on doing it like you are used to. The main thing is that you have the name of God in your soul, I have just made sure!