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 ReformJudaism.org, 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.
Have you ever made a decision that you felt was the right thing to do, but could have benefited from someone else’s advice? This week, join Rabbi Steven Bob, the emeritus Rabbi from Etz Chaim in Lombard, Illinois as he tells a story about a man who purchases a fire bell for his small town, but things don’t go quite the way he expects.
Three ways to listen:
[URJ Intro] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast from ReformJudaism.org. 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 that same tradition by sharing a new story with you. This week, Rabbi Steven Bob, the emeritus rabbi at Etz Chaim in Lombard, Illinois, shares the story "The Right Bell in the Right Place."
[Rabbi Steven Bob] Once in Minsk, there was a man named Moshe. Moshe was married to Hannah. Moshe was one of the most respected of all the people in Minsk. So it made sense that the people of Minsk would appoint Moshe to represent them on a very important mission.
The people of Minsk were celebrating one spring because of the beet harvest. It was a beet bonanza. They realized a greater profit from that beet bonanza than in any other year in any other harvest season.
They decided to send Moshe, their leading citizen, to the big city of Warsaw to find something to better the life of the people of Minsk. They gave to Moshe a sack of money. And they said to Moshe, you go to Warsaw, look at all the wondrous things they have in the modern city of Warsaw, and bring something back to Minsk that will improve our lives.
Before Moshe left for Warsaw, he spoke with his wife Hannah. Hannah said to Moshe, don't make a quick decision. Look carefully. And Moshe said, I will. And Hannah said, hmm. She was not as confident as Moshe as were the rest of the people of Minsk.
So Moshe went off to Warsaw. And he toured around Warsaw. He saw all the up to date things the people of Warsaw had. He was very impressed by an elevator and how it went up and down the many stories of the Warsaw towers. He said, this would be a wonderful thing for Minsk if only we had a building it was more than two stories high. So he decided not to buy an elevator.
Then one day, a building near where he was standing caught on fire. And the people of Warsaw rang a large bell. And fire engines came, and the firefighters put out the fire. And Moshe knew right away he had found the answer. What Minsk needed was a fire bell.
He purchased a fire bell. He was able to have a customized for Minsk. The bell was made into the shape of a giant beet. He brought the bell back to Minsk and explained to all the people exactly how the fire bell worked, that when there's a fire, you ring the bell, and people come and put the fire out.
Everybody in Minsk was very impressed. Ooh, said the people of Minsk. Ahh, said the people of Minsk. Hmm, said Hannah, not as confident in Moshe's purchase.
So Moshe put the fire bell up in the center of downtown Minsk and waited for a fire. Moshe went to work each day at his store, also in the center of downtown Minsk. From his workplace, he could see the fire bell. But alas, weeks went by, and nothing caught on fire. And the people of Minsk were beginning to worry. They said to Moshe, this is the big gift to the people of Minsk? It hasn't done anything.
So Moshe decided he had to act. He had to take the beet by its horns. So he gathered all the people of Minsk into the central square in downtown Minsk. And he set his own store on fire.
He calmly went to the bell and began to ring it, and nothing happened. And he rang the bell some more, and nothing happened. And his store burned to the ground. Moshe was devastated.
His wife said to Moshe, what happened? And Moshe said, I must have bought the wrong bell. And Hannah said, hmm.
[URJ Outro] After hearing the story "The Right Bell in the Right Place," have you ever done something that you thought was just the right thing to do, but perhaps a little extra wisdom would have helped? If so, we'd love to hear about it on social media. You can find us at Facebook.com/ReformJudaism. 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 ReformJudaism.org. And don't forget to visit ReformJudaism.org 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!