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What is the Problem?

retold by Doug Lipman

A downcast hasid came to his rebbe. "Rebbe, I am in serious financial trouble."

"So, what is the problem?"

"Rebbe, I lost my job. I lost every job I ever had."

"And why do you keep losing them?"

"Well, whatever job I take, it seems my heart is not really in it."

The rebbe looked hard at his disciple. "You are an outstanding student of the Torah. You work well with people. Why don't you become a rabbi?"

The hasid grimaced. "Rebbe, I have yearned to be a rabbi. But rabbis interpret the Law for people. Their judgements might affect the destiny of a person's soul. I can't be a rabbi. I'm afraid I might make a mistake!"

The rebbe met the hasid's eyes. "So? Who should become a rabbi? Someone who is not afraid of making a mistake?"

This story is told of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter - who was not a Hasidic rabbi, but whose stories are told by Hasidim.

This story is presented as part of a bouquet of three stories about questions:

  1. What is the Problem?
  2. How Do We Know?
  3. Who Has the Answer?

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