A young rabbi became infamous because of his unconventional methods and teachings. Because of this, he earned the ire of the elder, more traditional rabbis. One day, an elder approached him and said, “Why do you do these things? If your father were still alive, I’m not sure he would approve of what you are doing. You are nothing like him.”
The young man replied, “When my father was young, he initiated many changes and reforms that have been our custom for these past 20 years. Now, we no longer think of these as reforms because we have been so used to them. But back then, everyone was against him because he was the only one who wanted to change, who was not content with the way things were. It is not true that I am not like my father. On the contrary, I am exactly like him. He followed no one. I, too, follow no one.”
The head monk had a pet cat that had a nasty habit of meowing and rubbing against the monks’ bodies at common prayer time. The head monk then decided that the cat should be tied when all the monks gathered for communal prayer.
Just a couple of years later, the head monk died of old age but the cat still lived. The monks continued to tie the cat during prayer time.
After a few more years, the cat died. The monks immediately bought another one to replace it, and they still tied it at prayer time.
Two hundred years later, a visitor came by the monastery and observed that the monks would chase a cat and tie it up right before prayer time. When he asked about this, the host monk began a short discourse on the righteous merits of tying a cat during prayer time.