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The Shortest Way

retold by Doug Lipman

Once, two villagers came to a rabbi with a dispute. They quickly described their disagreement, then awaited the rabbi's judgement.

Instead of giving an immediate verdict, the rabbi asked one of the villagers a question about what had happened. The rabbi listened to the answer for a long time, then asked the other villager a question about his experience. The rabbi continued asking questions until both his visitors admitted that they had nothing more to say.

At that point, the rabbi retired to deliberate. Almost immediately, he returned and announced his decision. The villagers, seeming to accept his judgement without question, shook hands as they departed.

After they left, another man who had witnessed the whole matter asked the rabbi, "It took you only a moment to decide. Why did you spend all that time with them, when you were able to arrive at the proper decision so quickly?"

The rabbi replied, "I needed to listen to everything they had to say. Only then would they accept my decision without resentment. Only then would their problem really be solved."

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This story is told about Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak of Karlitch, about whom I know nothing. Any information regarding this rabbi would be welcome!

This story is presented as one of two stories about listening:

  1. The Shortest Way
  2. The Perfect Advice

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