Stories We Tell: Get Up and Go Early

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.

We’ve all had days when we have so many things to do, but we just want to stay in bed and put our tasks off for later. This week, Rabbi Leora Kaye tells a story about a rabbi who faced that very same temptation head-on, showing us how we too can push through our temptation and “get up and go early.”

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[Rabbi Leora Kaye] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast from Judaism has always had a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, passing our stories down orally from one generation to the next. And here, each Thursday, we share a new story with you to carry on that tradition.

Today, I'll be sharing a story. My name is Rabbi Leora Kaye. I'm the director of programs for the Union for Reform Judaism. And the story I'm going to be sharing is Get Up and Go Early.

It was so cold out. So, so cold. The kind of cold you can feel all the way down into your bones. And the Shamash, the person who takes care of all kinds of things in the synagogue, was the only one there. And it was early.

When all of a sudden, the rabbi came into the synagogue. The Shamash was a little surprised. It isn't so much that the rabbi never came in early, but this early? Not so often.

The Shamash asked the rabbi why he came in this morning when it was so cold out and kind of miserable. Why come to the synagogue so early? The rabbi looked a little sheepish. Well, I guess I will be honest with you. We spend so much time together, you and I, I'll tell you why.

This morning, when I woke up, I saw Satan standing right over my bed, and that evil spirit was just sort of waiting for me. And I asked him what he wanted. He didn't frighten me. But I was a bit curious for sure.

The Shamash looked at the rabbi and said, you weren't frightened? Oh, if that evil was standing over my bed, I am sure I would be afraid, rabbi. I am sure I would be afraid. Ah, this time I wasn't.

So as I was saying, I asked Satan, what is it that you want? And Satan, with the nicest smile so early in the morning, said to me, Rabbi, I only want what is best for you. And it is cold out there, rabbi. I think it is best if you just stay in your bed for a little while longer. Why go out there and feel that cold that's going to just reach all the way down, down into your bones?

Well, I answered, I need to get to the synagogue to do my work to help lead Shacharit, the morning prayers. I need to help the people who come to meet with me. I have to go, and I have to teach the students in cheider, the classes they come to in the afternoon. They've all just come back from their winter vacation. They're so eager to learn.

And I have meetings later with people from down the street from some of our other faith communities. I even have a meeting tonight with a wedding couple. I can't stay in bed all day.

But Satan said, don't you deserve a break too? You work so hard for them all the time. And it is so cold, and in your bed, it is so warm. And I shooed him out, and I shooed him away. And I got dressed as quickly as I could.

I ran over here to get going on my day in the holy work of the synagogue and bringing people together in our community. But why? asked the Shamash. Why? asked the rabbi. Because I figured if [? Satan ?] was willing to get up so early to try to do his job, I should be at least as willing to get up and start doing mine. Luckily, he was not so successful. Hopefully, we will be.

After hearing the story Get Up and Go Early, I am wondering what it is that it takes for you to get up and do the things that you do best. Do you sometimes need a little push to do them? If so, we'd love to hear about that a little bit on our social media. You can find us 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 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.