Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Story: Cossack Horse

There was a famous Chassidic Jew from Russia called R Mendel Futerfas, a man
who spent ten years of his life in a Russian gulag for teaching Judaism.
One of the prisoners in Rav Mendel's camp was an old Cossack imprisoned because
of his loyalty to the Czar. He reminisced with Reb Mednel about the Cossack horse.
You see, the Cossack horse was different than all other horses, incomparably
different! A Cossack’s horse had a different heart.
Not only would it do anything for its master; jump into fire, over trees and even
houses. Anything. And it was stronger, faster, and braver than anything alive. But
most of all, it had a different heart.
I will explain," continued the Cossack, “How did they catch a Cossack horse? Do you
know? Well I will tell you, this is a story!"
"The Cossacks were experts at this. There was a special group that would wander
the mountains and fields on horseback looking for herds of wild horses.
Then, if they were lucky and found a large herd, say of a thousand, two thousand
horses. They would stampede them and get them all running in the direction of the

nearest river. Then they would start screaming and shooting their guns in the air
and force the herd into the widest, deepest part of the river. You see, most horses
can swim, and so they had to get over, through the current to the other side, or die.
Now, on the other side was waiting another group of Cossacks. The whole thing,
was planned from the beginning, and they would watch to see what the horses did.
There were always two types of horses; some horses would make it to the other
side and run away to live their lives. Then there were the young horses, that didn't
have the strength to cross over, so they just floundered in the middle of the river."
His voice became serious, and he sat a "But sometimes... Not always, but sometimes,
there was a third type; maybe only one or two at the most, that were sort of crazy
They would make it across, but instead of running away, they would turn around,
look back into the river to see if there were horses in trouble and then jump BACK
in to save them."
"They would swim to the young horses, grab them with their teeth and start
dragging them in. They just couldn't stand to see their fellow horses in danger.
The Cossacks would throw some paint on these special horses and chase them for
days until they caught them. Then it would take several months of hard work until
they trained them. But the main thing was the heart; it was a horse with a heart.

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