Stories We Tell: The Truth Telling Rabbi

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.

Can two things be true at once? How do the ways we see ourselves and each other influence those truths? This week, join Rabbi Leora Kaye as she explores these questions through the story of a man seeking counsel from a wise and humble rabbi and someone who sees the rabbi just a bit differently.

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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 passing our stories down orally from one generation to the next. And here we do the same thing each week-- pass a story down for you to share with your family and the people that you love and care about. This week, I'm going to share a story. My name is Rabbi Leora Kaye. I'm the director of program for the Union for Reform Judaism. And the story that I'm going to share is called "The Truth Telling Rabbi."

There was a visitor to a certain town who wanted to visit with the rabbi. He had heard of her wisdom and dearly needed some. There was a problem that was vexing him, one which he had been assured she would certainly be able to help with. You see, it had been said that she was not only wise but also humble-- not only intelligent, but she was also very self-aware. It was, in fact, these very qualities that made her so smart, able to help solve even the toughest of challenges with the simplest solutions.

When Sampson arrived in the town, he began asking where he might find her. Would she maybe be at the synagogue? Perhaps she'd be sitting at a cafe meeting with her people? Finally, he asked a woman on the street who was walking briskly clearly from one place to the next with great purpose. She looked like the kind of person who would know things. And he said to her, do you know where I might find the rabbi, the one whom everyone says is so wise, so pious, so scholarly, so perceptive? I've come from very far away just to meet with her and to gain some counsel.

The woman looked at him and said, ah, you mean you came all the way here just to meet with the rabbi? I'm so sorry to hear that these rumors have traveled so far. They are great exaggerations for sure. Why, the rabbi of whom you speak, I know her. And really, she's no different than anyone else. No more or less special. Just a plain old person.

The visitor was so surprised by her words, so much so that he yelled at her, how can you say this about the rabbi? You know, you must know nothing about spirituality and things and ideas that are kodesh, things that are holy, or ideas that are holy. You must have a grudge against her. It's just not kind. And Sampson stormed away, certainly angry and ready to find the rabbi on his own.

He did eventually find out where she was likely to be later in the day-- in her office at the synagogue. And that is just where he went. However, when he walked into the synagogue and he walked into her office, he was mortified. Why, the very woman who had said that the rabbi was nothing special was sitting right there in the rabbi's chair. It was clear that she was the rabbi. Full of remorse and regret, he apologized to her for yelling at her the way that he had.

But she just looked at him with kindness. And she said, there's no reason for you to be so upset. We were both right. And everything we both said was absolutely true. I do have some knowledge, and I am no more special than you or anyone else.

After hearing the story of "The Truth Telling Rabbi," I guess I'm wondering if there are ever times that you can think of when two truths can both be true at the very same time. If so, we'd love to hear about it on 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, our culture, our 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!