Jul 5, 2010

Most Often Repeated Stories

Here is my list of most often repeated Jewish stories (post Gemara era) told in books and lectures.  If you have additional suggestions, please let me know!

1) R’ Aryeh Levine and his wife at the doctor: “Our foot hurts us.”

2) R’ S.Z. Auerbach at wife’s funeral, nothing to ask mechila for

3) R’ Zushe – they won’t ask me why I wasn’t like Moshe Rabeinu

4) Told about the Maggid of Mezritch and the Chofetz Chaim – “Where is your furniture?”

5) Maggid sends poor man to R’ Zushe to find out how to deal with troubles. R’ Zushe said, “I don't know why he sent you to me. I haven't had troubles in my life."

6) In the time of the Baal Shem Tov a community was threatened with severe Divine punishment. Aware of this, the Baal Shem Tov davened unusually long that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. A Jewish shepherd boy, illiterate, expert at imitating animal sounds and seeing the excitement in the shul and the hearing the weeping loudly cried out, “Cock-a-doodle-do, Hashem have rachmanus!” The Baal Shem Tov later said that it was this boy’s sincere prayer that cancelled the heavenly decree.

7) Wife of R’ Michel of Zlotchov smashes his esrog's pitem, upset that he sold the precious tefillin, he keeps quiet, he lost the esrog, should he also lose his shalom bayis?

8) R’ Yisrael Salanter – learns lesson from the shoemaker: “As long as the candle burns, it is still possible to repair”

9) R’ Akiva Eiger, man spills wine at the seder, R’ Akiva shakes the table to spill wine too and says the table seems to be shaky

10) Man who escorts R’ S.Z. Auerbach home notices him straightening his clothes at the entrance to the house and asks whether he is expecting an important guest. He says yes, the Shechina. When husband and wife live together in peace, the Shechina dwells there.

11) Man complains to the Steipler that his wife is disorganized erev Shabbos. The Steipler yelled, “Nem a bezzem” – take a broom! Help her out!

12) R’ Moshe – ink spills over his new Gemara and rather than be upset he says it looks better that way

13) R’ Moshe – someone who drove him accidentally slammed the door on his fingers but he didn’t utter a sound. Later, those who observed it asked him why he restrained himself and R’ Moshe said, he was kind enough to drive me. Did I have to make him feel bad?

14) The Chofetz Chaim once testified in a Polish court as a character witness on behalf of a student who was accused of a crime. After he did so, the student’s lawyer told the judge, “I would like to tell the court the greatness of this rabbi. A thief once stole something from him and he pursued him shouting, “I forgive you! It’s yours!” so that the thief wouldn’t be guilt of sinning because of him. Skeptical, the judge said, “You believe that?” Said the lawyer, “I didn’t personally witness it but people aren’t relating these stories about you and me!”

15) The Satmar Rebbe gives a tzedaka donation to someone who asks for one and afterwards is told the man is a phony to which he says, “Boruch Hashem, I’m glad to hear he’s not in need.

16) R’ Aharon Kotler would say to use the manned toll booth because it’s not kavod ha’briyos to pass up a man for a machine

17) Story about nasty neighbor in Yerushalayim who cut down the woman’s laundry and yet she kept quiet. The nasty neighbor’s child became sick and she came running to her to ask for forgiveness. The woman forgave her and she merited giving birth to a special child who grew up to be a tzaddik. (Story erroneously attributed to the mother of R’ Elyashiv but he was born in Europe and came to Israel when he was 12)


  1. What about the Chofetz Chaim story of the man who sat next to the Chofetz Chaim on a train and didn't know that he was sitting next to a Torah giant so he spent the next few hours talking about farming. When he found out that he had spent several hours telling the Chofetz Chaim about rain, corn, cows, etc, he ran to apologize to the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim told him that it was actually a very enjoyable conversation because it contained no lashon hara.

  2. It's a good story but nope, it doesn't rank up there.

    But here's another one which does make it on the list. The story told by the Bluzhever Rebbe about the woman in the camp who cried out for a knife. The Rebbe tried to calm her, thinking she was going to commit suicide. An SS officer gladly gave her a knife which she used to circumcise her baby.