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Steve Klaper:  Maggid. Songwriter. Storyteller. Teacher.
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People all over the world having been gathering around the fire to hear storytellers tell their tales and weave their magic since -- well, for as long as we've been people.

RABBI WOLF OF ZBARAZ had a stern sense of justice. Far and wide he was famed as an incorruptible judge. One day, his own wife raised an outcry that her maid had stolen an object of great value. The servant, an orphan, tearfully denied the accusation.

"We will let the Rabbinical Court settle this!" said her mistress angrily.

When Rabbi Wolf saw his wife preparing to go to the Court he began putting on his Sabbath robe.

"Why do you do that?" she asked in surprise. "You know it is undignified for a man of your position to come to Court with me. I can very well plead my own case."

"I'm sure you can," answered the rabbi. "But who will plead the case of your maid, the poor orphan? I must see that full justice be done to her."

WHEN THE TIME CAME for naming their firstborn son, a husband and wife began to wrangle with each other. She wanted to name him after her father; he wanted to name him after his father. Unable to agree, they went to the rabbi to referee the dispute.

"What was your father's name?" asked the rabbi of the husband.


"And what was your father's name?" the rabbi asked the wife.

"Also Nachum."

"Then what is this whole argument about?" asked the puzzled rabbi.

"You see, rabbi," said the wife, "my father was a scholar and a God-fearing man, but my husband's father was a horse-thief! How can I name my son after such a man?"

The rabbi pondered and pondered. It was indeed a ticklish matter; he didn't wish to hurt the feelings of the husband. So he said, "My decision is that you name your son Nachum and leave the rest to time. If he becomes a scholar, then you will know that he was named after his mother's father. If, on the other hand, he becomes a horse-thief, it will be clear that he was named after his father's father."

THE MASTER SAT AT THE crossroads quietly drinking his tea. A traveler approached from the west, a young gentleman obviously in a hurry to complete important affairs.

"You there," he called to the master, "How long will it take me to get to the city?" The master sipped his tea, and regarded the young gentleman in silence.

"I asked you a question, old one," the young gentleman repeated, hands on his hips. "How long will it take me to get to the city?" The master took another sip of tea, set the cup down. His expression changed not at all.

"What's the matter with you?" fumed the young gentleman. "Are you deaf, or just stupid? Bah!" He waved his hand at the master and started off down the road.

"One hour and twenty minutes," called out the master. The young gentleman spun around. "Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

The master smiled. "I couldn't tell you how long it would take until I witnessed how fast you could walk."

(How long will it take to accomplish anything? It depends...)

A CLEVER SMUGGLER came to the border with a donkey. The donkey’s back was heavily laden with straw. The official at the border was suspicious and pulled apart the man’s bundles till there was straw all around, but not a valuable thing in the straw was found. “But I’m certain you’re smuggling something,” the official said, as the man crossed the border.

Now each day for ten years the man came to the border with a donkey. Although the official searched and searched the straw bundles on the donkey’s back, he never could find anything valuable hidden in them.

Many years later, after the official had retired, he happened to meet that same smuggler in a marketplace and said, “Please tell me, I beg you. Tell me, what were you smuggling all those years?”

“Donkeys,” said the man.

A COMPETITION WAS UNDERWAY at the Monastery and all the monks were quite eager to do well. The Master had pointed out a very special tree that stood in the woods surrounding the monastery grounds and the monks had been asked to write a story or poem about this tree. 

This tree was indeed very special. The uniqueness of the blossoms was that they covered all the colors of the rainbow. It was simply breathtaking.

Over the next few days, the monks all arrived to delight in the company of this great tree. Each with his book and pencil, eager to transcribe into words the impact of the mesmerizing beauty of the wonderful tree. Poems, lavish descriptions and inspired stories were abounding. Much to the astonishment of the others, however, the wisest monk, Tara would come to keep company of the great tree in the very early morning hours of the day, when the earth was still enveloped in the darkness of the receding night. This of course meant that the great beauty of the iridescent, blossoms was not visible. 

“What a fool,” they other monks concluded. “Her story will not capture the incredible beauty of this tree; it will lack inspiration and be empty of feeling and passion.” 

Finally the day arrived when the winner was to be announced and all the monks, in heavy anticipation, gathered in the great hall. The Master, unhurried as always, floated into the great hall and sat on the speaker’s stand. He looked around the hall till he found his favorite disciple, Tara, and smiling softly, bowed deeply to her. Then he got up and started to leave.

The flabbergasted monks of course immediately realized that once again Tara had proven to be the wisest, but what had she written?  One monk unable to bear the question shouted out,

“Master, at least tell us what Monk Tara wrote, which led to her to winning this competition,”

The great master smiled and said,

“Go ask the tree!”

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