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When a scholar boards a ship with a group of merchants, the merchants are confused. What does a scholar have to sell that could compete with their radiant perfume and beautiful scarves? When pirates storm the ship, they find out in this story retold by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. You can find a written version of this story, titled “The Sefer Torah,” in the book Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell Their Favorite Stories by Laney Katz Becker.
Every year Moshe begs his father for an etrog, and every year, his father says they can’t afford it, until one special Sukkot when they scrimp and save and finally bring home an etrog. But what happens when Moshe can’t resist the pitom and Boris the Beet Borscht Baron from Belarus with very strong hands comes to bless the etrog? As Rabbi Steven Bob reminds us, “Whatever You Do, Don’t Bite Off the pitom”!
Joseph, on his way to a new town, meets a beggar on the train. His beard is tangled, his clothing is tattered, and he appears to be dirty. When the beggar speaks to Joseph, Joseph responds that they probably shouldn’t speak to each other until they arrive at their destination. What happens next? Listen to this story, retold by Rabbi Marc Katz. For a written version of the story, read “Forgiveness” in Three Times Chai by Laney Katz Becker.
Once, there was a king who set out on a mission in his kingdom to learn about his reputation. He travelled from town to town and eventually met a happy old man and his wife. After asking them why they were so joyous, they replied, “God takes care of us.” The king was furious—it’s him who takes care of the people, not God! What the man and his wife do next teach everyone in the kingdom, including the king, what it means to be taken care of. Rabbi Mark Kaiserman, the rabbi at Reform Temple of Forest Hills retells the story. For a written version, see “The Wooden Sword” in The Jewish Story Finder by Sharon Barcan Elswit.