Stories We Tell: Devorah and the Gold Coins

Judaism has a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, of passing down stories from one generation to the next. To carry on that tradition, Stories We Tell, from, will share a new story with you every Thursday. Whether you listen while driving to work, preparing Shabbat dinner, or taking your kids to school, each episode will give you a new story to reflect on and discuss with the people in your life. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life.

Devorah’s friend Yoel has the right intentions when she asks him to watch over her prized possessions. However, just like honey, sometimes friendship can be both sticky and sweet. Join Rabbi Lisa Delson, as she shares the story of Devorah and the Gold Coins.

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[URJ Intro] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast presented by Judaism has always had a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, passing our stories down from one generation to the next. And here each week we share a new story with you to carry on that tradition. This week we hear a story from Rabbi Lisa Delson, the associate rabbi of Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, California. She'll share the story of Devorah and the gold coins.

[Rabbi Lisa Delson] Once there was a woman named Devorah. Devorah had a very hard life. She lived alone, and her husband died a few years ago. She got word that her mother who lived in the town over was sick, and she needed to go take care of her. She packed up a few things that she would need for the journey and realized that she had some very important possessions in her own house that she wasn't sure would be taken care of. She had these very special honeypots. And along with the honey, she also had some money that she kept inside in the form of gold coins.

Her wonderful neighbor Yoel lived right next door, and she thought, well, Yoel will be able to take care of these honeypots while I'm away. She took her honeypots over to Yoel and said, "Yoel, I have to leave for a while. Would you mind taking care of these honeypots for me?" He said, "Of course. I would do anything for you, Devorah. I'll be happy to see you when you return." What Devorah didn't tell him was that she had gold coins in each of the honeypots.

A few weeks had gone by and Devorah hadn't returned, and Yoel was thinking that he needed to make some extra money to pay for his son's wedding. He happened to be a very skilled baker, and he decided that he was just going to take a little bit of the honey out of Devorah's honeypots to make some delicious treats to sell. As he was scooping out some of the honey for his recipe, he noticed some strange lumps in the honey.

He washed them away and found out that there were gold coins inside. And not just a few. There were a lot of gold coins inside these honeypots. He said, "Well, now this would actually help pay for my son's wedding." So he used some of those coins to pay for a beautiful wedding for his son and his son's bride. And he intended to return those coins.

A few weeks later, he noticed that his fence was falling down, and he needed some wood to fix it. But again, Yoel didn't quite have all the money that he needed to fix the fence. So he went back to Devorah's honeypots and took out a few more gold coins. And again, he said to himself, "I will pay Devorah back."

Just the next day, he was in town and he walked by his favorite store. In the window, he saw the most beautiful coat that he'd ever seen. He looked down at his own coat and noticed that there were a few holes in it and just didn't look as good as this new, beautiful coat. He came back the next day with a few more coins from Devorah's honeypots. He promised himself that he would pay her back.

Just a few weeks later, Devorah came home, and she was so happy to be back in her hometown and go see her neighbors again. She knocked on Yoel's door and asked for her honeypots back. He was acting kind of strange and didn't really look her in the eye, but he gave her the honeypots.

She went home to scoop out some of her gold coins so that she could buy some groceries and noticed that there were no gold coins left. She went back to Yoel's house and said, "Yoel, do you know anything about this? Along with the honey in these honeypots happened to be my entire life savings in gold coins, and now they're gone." Yoel again looked at the ground and looked up at the sky and said, "No, Devorah. I don't know what happened to your money."

Devorah didn't know what to do, and when she didn't know what to do, she went to the wise woman in town for some advice. The wise woman said, "Please come back tomorrow with the honeypots and Yoel and we'll all figure this out together." They came back the next day. And the wise woman looked at Yoel and noticed that he was wearing a really beautiful new coat. And then she got an idea. She asked for a hammer and one of the honeypots. She cracked open one of the honeypots, and inside what she found alongside the honey were two gold coins stuck to the side.

They all looked at Yoel and said, what's happened here? Yoel looked at Devorah, his friend, with tears in his eyes. He said, "I promised myself every single time that I would pay you back, but the situation got stickier and stickier, just like the honey, because I knew I wasn't going to be able to. I hope like the sweetness of the honey our years of friendship will allow you to accept my apology, and I promise never to do something like this again."

[URJ Outro] After hearing the story Devorah and the gold coins, I guess I'm thinking about whether or not you've ever been in sort of a sticky situation you weren't sure how to get out of. If you want to share that with us, we'd love to hear about it on social media. You can find us on Facebook at, and on Twitter our handle is @reformjudaism.

And thanks for listening to Stories We Tell. If you enjoyed this week's story, please subscribe and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can always find new episodes every Thursday on And don't forget to visit or to learn a little bit more about Jewish rituals or culture or holidays and more. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life. And until next week, l'hitroat.