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Can You Hear the Silence?

Hasidic Tales for the 21st Century

You can order this item via my on-line order form!

New! Now available as an mp3 download. Save money and save the earth!

Cover of recording
*A Unique Program...

*Who should not buy this recording
*Who am I?
*The Stories I Never Thought I Could Tell
*Seven stories of humor, joy, and warmth
*A live recording at a renowned New York cultural center


A Unique Program of Inspiration, Entertainment, and Transformation

This is unlike any other story experience. You will be entertained and moved. You'll experience all the nuances of oral telling - the way Hasidic tales were originally spread. Warning: these stories may induce a state of deep meditation. (Don't try to listen to this recording while operating heavy machinery!)

And the stories themselves represent my distilling of the essence of the Hasidic story: the joy, humor, depth, and wisdom I've come to love in these stories - presented in a form that's accessible to listeners of any background.

Nothing is assumed. Even the unique customs, terms, and concepts are made familiar in the course of the this program. I've always loved the kind of bilingual storytelling that gives me the flavor of another language - even the illusion of understanding it. Similarly, these stories will make you feel you are "speaking Hasidic." Everything referred to is explained, unobtrusively, within the tales themselves. This program actually introduces the novice to this form of Jewish mysticism - while delighting the devotee, as well.


Who should not buy this recording

Children too young to understand. If your children love stories of deep-feeling spiritual and social leaders, this program will fascinate. Otherwise, wait until they're older.

Those who expect a history lesson. These stories are told for authentic emotion and experience - not as footnotes on history. No, none of them actually happened. But every one is true.

Those who will be offended by an inclusive vision of spirituality and religion. If you want affirmation of "the one true way," you probably won't find it here. On the other hand, if you want Jewish mystical imagery expressed in terms that don't exclude the insights of other religions, you will find these stories enriching and broadening.


Who am I?

Author of 4 books (and 14 recordings as well as scores of published articles and stories), keeper of the Hasidic Stories Home Page (, internationally known storyteller and storytelling coach, past board member of major storytelling organizations. I've performed - and coached educators, performers, and executives in storytelling - on three continents. I've been a full-time artist since 1971. I'm the founder of the Storytelling Workshop in a Box™ and the Leading Story Monthly™: Recorded Interviews with Great Minds in Storytelling.

"To hear Doug to want to learn to tell stories yourself."
- Boston Globe

"Lipman provides inspiration to take charge of storytelling's future."
- School Library Journal

"A rock-steady presence...finding eager eyes and ears."
- Washington Post

"Lipman is among those bring storytelling into the present."
- Christian Science Monitor


The Stories I Never Thought I Could Tell

In 1979, I fell under the spell of the Hasidic tale. Some deep hunger was awakened by these stories of wise, compassionate rabbis who lent surprising guidance to a soul's journey. 23 years later, I am preparing to pass that spell on to you - and to those with whom you would like to share this experience.

I never thought I would tell Hasidic tales. After all, I thought, I was not raised with a Hasidic or even an Orthodox background. I might make some mistakes. Just attempting to tell these stories might be presumptuous.

I would, undoubtedly, have given in to the critical voices inside me - except for one thing. There were even louder voices. The voice of the stories themselves, which seemed to remain alive in my imagination and in my heart. The voice that erupted out of me, causing me to tell entire 20-minute stories to my dinner guests. The magnetic voices of the rabbis - the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, and so many others. The call of the transformations experienced by their followers (or even their enemies).

In the end, I became a reed - not hollow enough, not straight enough, not flexible enough, but still a conduit - for the shining joy of these stories.

Along the way, the journey took on personal flavors. I was determined not to pass on the sexism, parochialism, or ethno-centrism that, in my mind, sometimes contaminated the pure transcendence of these stories. So I culled and trimmed, searching for ways to present the brilliant story blossoms without passing along the cultural parasites that sometimes clung to their petals.

Then, twenty years into this adventure, I had another major surprise. One day, I was reading a Hasidic story in a volume published in Israel. Half-way through the story, I realized how it would end. I was thrilled - for a few moments. Disappointingly, the ending of the story in the book turned out to be much less satisfying to me than the ending I had imagined. When I began to tell people the story I had imagined, I found that I had crossed the line from adapting into creating. Soon, I was explicitly inviting Hasidic-inspired images to come to me. As of this writing, I've created seventeen original "Hasidic" stories - and done inventive adaptations of a half-dozen more.

"Can You Hear the Silence" is a program of seven of the best of these original tales, chosen not only for their individual appeal, but also to create a coherent, well-paced hour-long program. Tied together by an original nigun accompanied on 12-string guitar, this show combines the humor, drama, emotion, and mystery of this old, but vital tradition.

My hope is that you will hear in these stories not only what I have heard in Hasidic stories, but also the silent, forceful, inexorable turnings of your own heart.


Seven stories of humor, joy, and warmth

These are the stories that comprise the program, interwoven with guitar and singing:

On Strike
Why won't the rabbi do his duties? Each person in the village asks him to bless the matzah, but he gives them all the same answer - except for one.This month's feature is On Strike, a story about the fictional rabbi, Rabbi Pesach Mendel.

The Baal Shem Tov and the Doctor
In this new tale, a famous doctor challenges the Baal Shem Tov to a contest of healing. When it is his turn, the Baal Shem Tov asks, "Have you ever lost something very valuable?" Then the healing begins.

The Wheat Doll
Why is the rabbi's wife dancing with a doll? What does her dancing have to do with the time the rabbi lost his temper? This month's story introduces Rabbi Pesach Mendel, a fictitious rabbi from the mind of Doug Lipman - and the lesson he learns from a Wheat Doll.

The Magic Fruit
Rabbi Pesach Mendel is facing a villager with a thorny problem - and who asks the one question the rabbi dreads. Why does the rabbi respond by picking up an apple from his desk? And then why does he begin a strange story about a wailing beggar...and the Magic Fruit?

Can You See the Turning?
What hurtful thing has the rabbi done? Why can't he make it right? How does a little girl help him find the way to "turn back"? Can You See the Turning? is a story not only of repentance, but also of listening to children, assembling the story of everyone involved, and the power and problems of community.

What About the Daughters?
Why is the Rabbi digging frantically in the ground? What does that have to do with a confrontation a hundred years later during World War II? What About the Daughters? is a modern story about prophecy, compassion, and the power of a prayer to avert violence.

Hearing the Music
Why does the rabbi writhe when he hears the elderly former-cantor sing a prayer? An original story about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.


A live recording at a renowned New York cultural center

"Can You Hear the Silence" was recorded live in concert at the 92nd St. Y in New York, January 9, 2003.

The 92nd St. Y is a famed venue for Jewish culture.

This one-hour recording is available on audio-cassette as well as on CD. Packaged in an attractive vinyl library case, $14.95 for cassette, $19.95 for CD, only $10.47 for download. Order this now - hear for yourself!

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Use my secure server to order via credit card. Or call, fax, email, or mail to the address below.



Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

This page was last updated on November 18, 2008
Copyright©2003 Doug Lipman