Two stories from the Jewish tradition

By Paulo Coelho

Isaac dies

A certain Rabbi was adored by the community; everyone was enchanted by what he said.

Except for Isaac, who never missed an opportunity to contradict the Rabbi’s interpretations and point out faults in his teachings. The others were annoyed by Isaac, but could do nothing about it.

One day, Isaac died. During the funeral, the community noticed that the Rabbi was deeply upset.

– Why are you so sad? – someone commented. – He was always criticizing everything you said!

– I am not upset for my friend who is now in heaven – replied the Rabbi – I am upset for my own self. While everyone revered me, he challenged me, and I was obliged to improve. Now he has gone, I am afraid I shall stop growing.

Forgiving in the same spirit

The Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl was always being insulted by a shopkeeper. One day, the latter’s business began to go badly.

“It must be the Rabbi, who is asking for God’s revenge,” he thought. He went to ask Nahum’s forgiveness.

– I forgive you in the same spirit you ask for forgiveness – replied the Rabbi.

But the man’s losses just kept increasing, until he was reduced to misery. Nahum’s horrified disciples went to ask him what had happened.

– I forgave him, but he continued to hate me deep down in his heart – said the Rabbi – Therefore, his hatred contaminated everything he did, and God’s punishment became more and more severe.

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  1. wanbliska says:

    Thanks for your word Sasha.

  2. sasha says:

    Isaac dies

    This semester I started taking a World Literature course and it was a little different than any other English course I’ve ever taken. I was used to everything being graded and the discussions were followed by an agenda. However, this course is very unlike that. There are not many graded things and our discussions go wherever we want them to go. At first, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but after being in it for a quarter, I’m realizing I’ve never grown more as an English student. I’m no longer writing for a grade but I’m writing to be a better writer and I’m no longer contributing and saying comments that I feel teachers want to hear but comments that I think contribute to the discussion at hand. Although, at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this new set up, I’ve come to realize the challenge made me grow more and I really enjoy the class.

    Even though others think it’s rude of Isaac, the priest thanks him in the end for challenging him. The priest shows a very important aspect that I think everyone needs to accept in order to grow. It’s not just that we need to be challenged but also that we need to take risks. If we stay in our comfort zones, we’ll never grow as human beings. In the Alchemist, there’s a quote ” Naturally, it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.” We need to take risks and accept being challenged by other people, otherwise we wont go anywhere from where we are now. There are many people who do settle and stay in one place because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t, however, I don’t think that’s where you are happiest and living your full potential.

    Forgiving in the same spirit

    The word sorry is now thrown around without any emotion behind it. I do it all the time. I say sorry without truly being sorry or without even thinking about what I’ve done. This reminds me of a quote from Fight Club: “Narrator: When people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just…
    Marla Singer: – instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?” It seems we throw emotions around without meaning them and never really listen and acknowledge what’s happenings around us. We are always just concerned with what we are doing and what’s happening to us. This story shows that if we keep doing this, it’s not going to end well.

    The Rabbi forgives the shopkeeper for insulting him, however, the shopkeeper never actually says sorry. It may be better that he didn’t falsely say sorry and keep being mad at the Rabbi but in the end he’s punished for the things he’d done to the Rabbi. He has to live his life in misery. If the shopkeeper had stopped for a second to realize what was going on around him, maybe he would have realized he wasn’t being fair to the Rabbi and he could have given him a sincere apology and saved his business (even though that shouldn’t be his first priority when giving the apology).

  3. wanbliska says:

    “Therefore, his hatred contaminated everything he did, and God’s punishment became more and more severe.”

    How does he know, as to graciousness?
    Saying so may be a spell, that could be brought back faster to him.
    But I don’t really know.

    Have a great night.

  4. wanbliska says:

    That is wise from the Rabbi to tell he still needs to grow. He’s human, as us.
    Disciples “admire” him, or “adore” him. They replace the love they could feed their soul with, in him.
    They are waiting too much from his heart, spreading love of words.

    They ask questions and questions, and when the Rabbi takes time to answer to all, and give them exercices to, they say it’s too much.
    They think the Rabbi choose the latter by chance. More, that he don’t answer at all.
    Although nobody asked them to become again pupils. They’re all free to do, it seems… We’re not here in a monastery. Nor in harmony.

    Because, spreading love of words, disciples sometimes don’t mean a thing, and talk to each other between words. It’s a gift! But they use it towards themselves, in their own House.

    Thus, they admire a “vau d’or”, because they miss the critical virtue: what taste the word can provide for their own Heart. What for?
    They think they are arrived, and yet they feel more and more, that they are terribly not.

    There must be two words for love.

    Isaac dies blind. Maybe he wanted to experiment, his brothers feelings; why they had ignored him. No… At least, he had certainly see, yes, see, that whatever he said, there would always be someone to laugh about. So why keeping silent?
    He let his heart speak, despite consequences. Cause his heart said so.

    “Sometimes, we can’t stop the river of life”.

    The Rabbi knows some disciples will reproach him to be too this, or too that, to be guilty, because they can’t open their heart, to say how things are, when they come within. But too late.
    They disrespect him suddendly.
    But pain builds his heart. That’s precisely the fight.

    Today we blend severity with hatred, and love with insecerity.

    All of us, humans, we can’t explain graciousness: we receive It. Forgiveness belongs to us, but we’re just learning still.

    Is it God’s punishment or Rabbi’s one?


  5. Agnieszka says:

    Everything what we have to offer to the world is hidden inside us, and it shows in every moment of our lives, in every act.
    Love or hatred, pureness or manipulation, good or evil….whatever we give….
    it’ll come back to us.


  6. Tania says:

    I think I have answered this before ,but you must have it up again for a reason ..
    It is good to have someone challenge you ,that is how growth occurs there is no good sucking up to someone for fear you may push there buttons or speak your mind ..maybe they are meant to hear what you say …and who wants to follow the crowd ,get your own thoughts ,interests and opinions …
    As for the shop keeper it ate him up ,I always say its not what is wrong with you ..!!its who is wrong with you ..!! some people get sick ,hate or have jealousy this is what will manifest in them or there work …
    Blessings Tania