THE STORIES ANIMATING OUR ROOMS
Disclaimer: None of this info is necessary to complete your escape game.
We are sharing these stories to provide you with more context and a more immersive experience.
Our escape rooms will thrust you into true stories and our goal is to make your time with us as meaningful as possible. We want you to play an active part in historical events you might have never heard of.
SHPOLA ZEIDE ROOM
The Dancing Bear
The Shpola Zeide was legendary for was his love for the fellow Jews. One day he learnt a Jew was thrown to a dungeon by a poretz (landlord) for not being able to pay his rent. The Shpola Zeide wanted to save him.
The poretz was known to starve his prisoners and then force them to dance wearing a bearskin, in a competition against a Cossack. If the Jew collapsed first, it meant he was guilty and would be whipped to death. If the Cossack fell first, the Jew would go free.
No Jew had a chance. The Cossacks were famous as powerful horsemen, and athletic dancers with tremendous energy. The next morning, the guards arrived to bring the prisoner to the dance-off. They threw a bearskin into the pit, waited for the prisoner to don the skin and hauled him up with a rope. The prisoner was led to the Great House of the nobles, where a drinking party was in full swing. Everyone hooted and jeered when he came in. The band started to play and the Cossack danced. And the Jew danced.
People were surprised to see that they were evenly matched. The Cossack danced again, and the Jew in the bear suit danced back. Hours passed as the band played song after song. Never had a Jew danced so hard and so excellently. Never had a Cossack met his match.
By now the guests had stopped laughing and sat there stunned. Finally the musicians got tired, and even the Cossack dancer was willing to stop. Not so the Zeide under the bear skin singing the niggun (Chassidic melody) he had been taught ('Hop Cozzack'), and dancing as he had never danced before!
The band picked up with renewed vigor, and the tune accelerated rapidly. "Hop Cozzack" the Shpola Zeide cried ('Jump, Cossack!)', swinging his arms and kicking his feet, as he continued to dance with astonishing ease. That's when it happened: suddenly the Cossack dancer's cruel heart gave out and he fell to the ground, dead. This is how the Shpola Zeide won "The Bear Dance," and his fellow Jew was freed from prison.
Story of Rashi's Birth
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, also known as Rashi was born to a poor family in Troyes, France. Rashi's father, Rabbi Yitchak was a scholar but as a wine maker, he earned a modest salary. One Day, Rabbi Yitzchak came across a rare diamond and wanted to sell it in order to lift his family out of poverty. He tried selling it to the local jeweler, but the jeweler did not have enough money to buy such a large diamond.
Eventually, a powerful bishop found out about the diamond Rabbi Yitzchak possessed and offered him a lot of money for it. When Rabbi Yitzchak heard that the bishop wanted the diamond in order to place it into a shrine, he refused to sell it. It was then made clear, that if the diamond was not sold, it was going to be taken by force. Rabbi Yitzchak, not wanting his diamond to be used in a shrine, threw it into the sea.
A Heavenly Voice then resounded: "For this great sacrifice you will be blessed with a son that will outshine all the precious stones in the world, and the light of his Torah will shine for ever." The following year a son was born to him, and he called him Shlomo, saying, may G‑d grant him wisdom like unto King Solomon.
(This story is brought down in the Shalshelet Hakaballah, published in 1587)
The Silver Thief
Rabbi Nathan Schapiro, before he became famous as the Megale Amukot, devoted his life Torah study, prayer and contemplation. No one yet knew about his greatness besides his wife, whom he warned never to tell what she saw or heard. His wife inadvertently told her sisters about one of his holy customs. She revealed that angels themselves come to listen to her husband's intense devotions. A mortal who witnessed this would be in grave danger.
The sisters then passed this gossip to their husbands. The men hid under Rabbi Nathan's bed. Rabbi Nathan returned and unsuspectingly went about his usual lofty pursuits. The following morning it was discovered that the two brother in-laws were dead. The entire family mourned their deaths but no one was as sad as Rabbi Nathan who considered himself guilty.
He then set out on a self-imposed exile to wander from village to village, living in charity guest houses until he arrived in the city of Lublin, northeast of Krakow. It was the night before Sukkot, the holiday when every Jew makes a point to eat in the Sukkah and recite the blessings over the Four Species of plants in the morning.
Eager to fulfill these Mitzvot, Rabbi Nathan made an exception and accepted the offer of an upstanding citizen of Lublin, who kindly invited him to spend the holiday in his home. After prayers, the guest followed his host to his home and ate the meal in his Sukkah. When the meal ended, Rabbi Nathan asked his host to allow him to remain in the Sukkah. The host agreed, and did not even bother removing the silver serving dishes that were still on the table.
When the host left, Rabbi Nathan took out a volume and became so engrossed in his study that he did not realize a thief entering the Sukkah. The thief quickly took all the silver and valuables before making his way out. When the host returned he was shocked to see his table empty and his guest sitting buried in his book. Rabbi Nathan was seized and placed in the town jail where he was told he will stay there until the silver "he stole" is returned to its owner.
Rabbi Nathan was not concerned about his honor or the injustice of being wrongfully imprisoned. Instead, his concern was how will he be able to fulfill the Mitzva of the Four Species. He stuck his head out the window of the prison and begged each passerby to bring him the four species so he can do the Mitzvah.
Word spread quickly, and even the Rabbi of the town heard about the strange thief who shamelessly stole the silver, yet studied Kabbalah and boldly asked that a Lulav and Etrog be brought to him. The Rabbi decided to visit the peculiar criminal. When he arrived, he immediately recognized the man as the missing brilliant young man described in a letter he received from Rabbi Nathan's family in Krakow. After assuring the community this was no criminal, the Rabbi had Rabbi Nathan released.
Rabbi Nathan saw the embarrassing revelation of his identity as a sign that his repentance was accepted on high, and decided he can return home. Rabbi Nathan Nota Spira later became the Rabbi of Krakow, Poland and an ancestor of Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer (Schapiro).
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