Chassidim & Misnagdim
Riding on public transportation on Wednesday morning, I came across a teaching in the Gemara (Sukka 28a) that serves as the basis for one of my favorite jokes about the difference between Chassidim and Misnagdim. The joke goes something like this...
A Chassid and a Misnaged were sitting next to each other in front of an open Gemara, learning together in chavrusa. The chassid looks over at the Misnaged and excitedly says, "Do you see this!!!? It says, 'They said about Yonason ben Uziel, that when he sat and studied Torah, any bird that flew over him burst into flames.'"
The Misnaged, apparently not impressed, responds, "Nu, so what is your point?"
The Chassid repeats the line once again, "They said about Yonason ben Uziel, that when he sat and studied Torah, any bird that flew over him burst into flames."
Sitting stone-faced, the Misnaged responds, "So......"
Exasperated at his chavrusa's indifference, the Chassid explains, "Can you imagine the deveykus of this tzaddik?? He learned with such intensity and fervor that a pillar of fire shot out of the sefer before him and incinerated the birds flying over him! You are not impressed with this??"
The Misnaged responds, "Why would I be impressed with this?? I want to know whose birds they were and how much the owner gets in damages!"