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Stories We Tell: Three Rabbis Along the Way

Stories We Tell: Three Rabbis Along the Way

Rabbi Leora Kaye

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. 

Three rabbis who pass by a town that has fallen on hard times each respond in a different way. Has there been a time when you changed your approach to do something better? Listen to the story told by Rabbi Leora Kaye, URJ Director of Program, to see what they learn from each other.

Three ways to listen:


[URJ Intro:] Welcome back to “Stories We Tell,” a podcast presented by Each week we share a story here to pass on the tradition of storytelling from one generation to the next. And this week, I'm going to share a story with you. My name is Rabbi Leora Kaye, and I'm the Director of Program for the Union for Reform Judaism. The story I share with you is "Three Rabbis Along the Way."

[Rabbi Leora:] There once were three rabbis that traveled together often. And they would each take their own horse and buggy and go from town to town-- in some places staying for a while, in some places staying for just a bit. But they would learn with the people of that town, and they would teach what they knew, and they would learn from the townspeople themselves.

Now it happened that they once came across a town that clearly had come upon very hard times. The people in the town didn't seem to have enough to eat. They didn't seem to have the appropriate clothes to wear to keep them warm. And they looked at each other but were unsure of what to do.

Well one of the rabbis immediately took his horse and buggy right into the town and found the mayor. He gave the mayor all of the money that he had brought with him for his travels, all of the coins that were in his pocket. And he said to the mayor, "Please take care of the people of your town. Please make sure that they have enough to eat and enough to wear."

Now the second rabbi, he also decided to go into the town. He took his horse and buggy and he went directly to the grocer. He said to the grocer, "I am giving you all of the provisions that I have, everything that I've brought-- the potatoes, the apples, the grains, the onions that I brought so I could eat along the way on my travels. But please, please share this with the people of your town. Make sure that they have enough to eat, make sure that they have sustenance, especially the children."

Now the two rabbis were surprised because the third rabbi did not go into the town with them. She seemed to continue going, even though she, too, had seen what it was that they had seen. But they figured that they would find her along the way, and they were surprised mostly because she generally seemed to be such a compassionate person, such a person who was focused on justice.

It turned out that they did in fact see her again. They had been riding away from that town for a few days before they saw her heading back toward the town. And they said to her, "Well, where is it that you're going?" She said to them, "I saw what was happening in that town, and I decided there may be some way that I could help."

She said, "I went to the towns beyond that one, and I went and found some places where I could get some tools and some fabric, some water and some equipment. And I even found some people that might join me back in that town, and we've decided to go to share with them what we know about farming this kind of land, and what we know about sewing clothes for just this kind of weather. And we've brought a bit of water. We thought that might help as well."

They looked at her, and they understood. And then they said, "Well, we have learned from you again, and we hope to learn from you as we go on." She said, "I'm sure that we will. I'll be there for a little while. I will learn from them. They will learn from me. And hopefully when we see each other again, we will all be able to learn together."

[URJ Outro:] After hearing the story, "The Three Rabbis Along the Way," I'm wondering if there's ever been a time in your life when you realized that with a little bit more effort or a little bit of different kind of effort, you could do just a little bit more.

If you want to share that with us, we'd love to hear about it on social media. You can find us at or on Twitter where our handle is @ReformJudaism. 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!

Rabbi Leora Kaye is the director of program for the Union for Reform Judaism.