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Your Last Hour

retold and adapted by Doug Lipman

A story in the form of a song

A rabbi had three students,
And posed them a question:
"If you had one hour
remaining in your lifetime,
What would you do
in that one hour?"

The first one read and studied,
then answered the question:
"I would spend that hour
studying the Torah."

The second one closed his eyes,
then answered the question:
"I would spend that hour
in the ecstasy of prayer."

The third one looked at the rabbi,
then answered the question:
"I would spend that hour
loving my family."

The rabbi looked at his students,
stroked his beard, and smiled;
"Each of you has given
a deep and holy answer."

But the students turned to the rabbi
and asked him the question:
"What would you do,
in your last hour?"

"Me? I would spend that hour,
doing what I'd been doing.
Doing what I'd been doing,
for all of life is sacred."

The rabbi looked at the students,
stroked his beard and smiled:
"Doing what I had been doing,
for all of life is sacred."

I first heard this story, in song form, from Elizabeth Dunham. I re-wrote the words. Elizabeth heard her version from someone who credited it to Arthur Strimling. But Arthur says he never sang it. So the source of the melody (heard on my audiotape, The Forgotten Story: Tales of Wise Jewish Men is a mystery to me.

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This page was last updated on Monday, March 10, 2003
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