The ta’am(melody) that the Torah is chanted in is a very old and special melody. It has been handed down from generation to generation. Its’ roots are very deep. They are found in the mystical teachings of our religion. Some times people want to be innovative, to create a new melody. The following story is just that.
Once there was a secularist who was very good friends with the Rav of the city. Even though this secularist differed in opinion from his traditionally observant friends, he still visited his old friend, the city Rav, on a regular weekly basis. On one visit, the secularist, began to complain to the Rav about the unchanging ways of the Traditional Jewry.
“… And why can’t they update the tune to which the Torah is chanted?” the secularist objected. “How many years can you continue with the same old tune? Especially today when so many new and beautiful musical tunes and melodies are being brought into the world by inventive and creative composers. Answer me that!” he demanded of the Rav.
“I’ll have to think about it. Maybe you have a point. Perhaps next week I’ll be able to answer you, but for now could you do me a big favor? I’m short of money and if you could loan me 50 rubles, I’ll pay you back next week.”
“Of course,” the secularist said, honored that the Rav would ask him for a loan. He reached into his purse, “here, take this!” He handed over the money that the Rav requested.
Thanking him warmly, the Rav escorted him to the door and bid him farewell.
The next week the secularist came at his customary tea time and sat with the Rav, chatting amicably in the parlor. As the time pressed on, the secularist felt uncomfortable because the Rav had not offered to return him the money that he had lent to him so willingly and with out a note. Finally as the secularist began to leave, he turned to the Rav and said: “Pardon me for bringing this up, but did the Rav not promise to return today the 50 rubles that he borrowed from me last week?”
“I borrowed 50 rubles from you?” was the Rav’s surprised reply.
“Yes, don’t you remember? Last week when I was here. Before I left!” the secularist exclaimed.
“I borrowed 50 Rubles from you?” the Rav responded with indignation.
“But, but the Rav promised to return the money to me today, and now you are denying that you even borrowed the money!” the secularist cried out in pain at the Rav’s breach of faith and denial of the loan.
“I borrowed 50 Rubles from you?” the Rav raised his voice is dismay.
“Yes! How can you deny the good deed I did, loaning you the money. Don’t you remember we were chatting about the same old tune that has been used for the Torah reading for so many years? You said perhaps you would give me an answer this week and then you asked to borrow 50 rubles. And now you deny it!
“Who me?” The Rav asked as he broke into a gentle grin, “I’m not denying anything, I said ‘I borrowed 50 Rubles from you’ I just changed the tune of my statement!
“Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s the tune which gives the meaning to the words!”