The Monks and the Rabbi




Prior to the 18th century, the church had a great influence over Europe, especially the catholic monasteries where the monks performed austerities. But the monasteries dwindled as time went on, and gradually they became historic sites. One such monastery was inhabited by an order of monks who had previously consisted of many branches, but now only one monastery remained, with only five monks living there, and all of them were over seventy years old. The abbot was worried that the order would be lost, so he was trying to make recruits, but all his efforts were going in vain.

The monastery was situated on the edge of a forest, and people used to come there to picnic. In the forest was a hut which was visited by a rabbi. They all knew the rabbi, and also they knew the times when he visited the hut. So one time when the abbot came, the abbot thought to go and visit him. “Maybe he can give me some advice about how to save the order.” So the abbot went there and when he arrived he and the rabbi embraced. They were glad to see each other, and they began to discuss deep spiritual topics. So he was just about to leave when he remembered the purpose of his visit. “Can you give me any advice about how to save the order?” So the rabbi said, “Well to tell the truth, I also have the same problem. No one is interested in coming to the synagogue. I can’t really help you.” So the abbot was just about to leave when the rabbi said to him, “I do know one thing, however. One of you is the new messiah.”

This cryptic answer confused the rabbi and he returned to the monastery. He related his meeting with the rabbi to all the other monks, and told them of the cryptic answer he had received. From then on, all of the monks began to think, “I wonder which one of us is the new messiah? Maybe it’s Brother Frederick, he’s so strong willed. Or maybe it’s Brother Peter, he’s very shy and humble, always willing to lend a hand.” And then they began to think. “It couldn’t be me, could it? I mean, God, would have to be pretty hard up to pick me as the new messiah.” So, thinking like this, the monks all began to act very nicely towards one another, as they didn’t want to commit any offence if one of their Godbrothers might be the new messiah. And they also began to act in a very dignified way themselves, just in case they themselves were the new messiah.

Soon, the people who came and picnicked by the monastery at the edge of the forest also began to come and pray in the monastery. They noticed a change of mood in the monastery, that the monks were acting very reverentially towards their Godbrothers, and that they seemed to have a very nice relationship. The people also noticed that the monks themselves also appeared very dignified, and seemed to be emanating an aura. The people noticed this distinct change, and sometimes they would talk with the monks. One man decided that he wanted to experience what the monks were experiencing, so he joined up . His friend came along to see what he was up to, and he also joined. In this way the monastery built up again.

MORAL: If we can act nicely toward each other and behave nicely ourselves, then people will become attracted.


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