Stories We Tell: Do You See the Big Picture?

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. 

Sometimes, it takes time to understand. In this story, two brothers learn how time is necessary to a farmer's work. Was there ever a time you needed to let something grow in order to see what it might turn into?

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[URJ Intro:] Welcome back to "Stories We Tell," a podcast from Judaism has a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, passing our stories down from one generation to the next orally. And here each week, we share a new story with you to carry on that tradition. This week, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, a cantor, an educator, and a storyteller, shares the story "Do You See the Big Picture?"

[Cantor Ellen:] Once upon a time, there were two brothers who had lived their entire lives behind the stone walls of a great city. Everything they could ever want was right there at their fingertips, and it was grand and beautiful. They had never seen fields or meadows, and one day they decided to pay a visit to the country. As they walked along the road, they saw a farmer at his plowing. They watched him and they were puzzled. "What on earth is he doing that for?" they wondered. “He turns up the earth and leaves deep furrows in it. Why would someone take a smooth piece of land covered with nice green grass and dig it up?”

Later, they watched the farmers sowing grains of wheat along the furrows. “Well that is very odd!” they exclaimed. “This man takes good wheat and throws it into the dirt!”

“I don't like the country,” said one of the brothers in disgust. “Only the most foolish people live here!” And he returned to the city.

His brother who remained in the country saw a change take place only a few weeks later. The ploughed fields began to sprout tender green shoots, even more beautiful and fresher than before. This discovery excited him very much! So he wrote to his brother in the city and said, “You must come back at once and see for yourself the wonderful changes that have taken place!” His brother was skeptical, but he came and was indeed delighted with what he saw.

As time passed, they watched the sprouts grow into golden sheaves of wheat. Now they both understood the purpose of the farmers work, and when the wheat became ripe, of course the farmer brought out the scythe and began to cut it down. At this, the impatient one of the two brothers exclaimed “This farmer's not thinking straight! How hard he worked all these months to produce this lovely plant, and now with his own hands he's cutting it down! I am disgusted with such wastefulness and I'm going back to the city.” And off he went.

His brother, the patient one, held his peace and remained in the country. He watched the farmer gather the wheat into his granary. He saw him skillfully separate the grain from the chaff. He was filled with wonder and admiration when he saw that the farmer had harvested more than a hundred times the amount of seed he had originally sowed. It was only then that he understood that there was indeed logic and purpose in everything that they had observed and that the farmer had done.

[URJ Outro:] After hearing the story of “Do You See the Big Picture?,” the best question might be if there's ever been a time when you just needed to let something grow in order to see what it really might turn into? If you'd like to share that with us on social media you, can find us at, and on Twitter our handle is Thanks for listening to “Stories We Tell.” If you enjoyed this week's story, rate and review us on iTunes. And you can always find new episodes every Thursday on, where you can also go 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’hitraot!