Sages & Mystics

More classical Jewish stories

The Consequences of a “Borrowed” Napoleon
When a valuable coin was exchanged, a life was ruined. Who was to blame?
The Devoted Husband
Putting Right a Broken Engagement
“Sadly, my father-in-law-to-be lost all his wealth. As a result, we broke off the engagement.”
The Milkman’s Secret
Suddenly a strong gust of wind blew open a window and knocked over a jug of milk on the sill. It spilled into the large pot of meat that was cooking on the stove.
The Unwilling Cantor
The whole program fell apart, the communal prayer was canceled, and everyone ended up praying as usual in their respective synagogues.
The Rabbi Almost Quit
I decided that if this city has such fine, humble, generous folk, how could I ever think of stopping to serve?
The Bottomless Barrel
The beggar blessed me that the barrel would not run out until the final feast celebrating my youngest son’s wedding.
The Pious Peddler
The story of the pious peddler who had come from his grave to help a poor widow.
The Kind Benefactor Who Was Barred From Heaven
“Suddenly, I saw an angel walking toward me. It blocked my way forward, and began to drag me back out of Gan Eden!”
Promises Fulfilled: Buried Near the Shaagas Aryeh
The men of the chevra kadisha were not inclined to believe him, and did not plan to honor his request.
The Miraculous Salvation of Iraq’s Jews
Marking 80 years since the defeat of German proxies in Iraq
The Money in the Barrel
“Where is my money now?” he asked. “I see that all the barrels are now sealed.”
Healed by the Talmud Class
A Jew in Poland suffered from a lung ailment, which his doctors informed him he would not survive.
The Midnight Mystery and the Halted Plague
One of the townsfolk left his house at midnight every night and headed to the forest outside the city.
Betzalel the Milkman's Precious Find
“I just found this bag filled with money,” explained Betzalel, showing him its contents. The bag was heavy, filled with coins.
The Greedy Liar and the Grateful Merchant
“I came to honor the holy rabbi, to tell this story and express my gratitude,” continued the rich businessman who had traveled all the way to Fez to see Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Attar. “I am certain the ruin of my ex-partner is because he used your name to swear falsely”
The Wise Words That Saved a Life
The two bright scholars spent much time conversing, and the young aristocrat particularly enjoyed hearing his friend’s ingenious Torah insights.
Envoy From Safed
If successful, he would save his brothers and sisters from certain ruin. If unsuccessful, they shuddered to imagine…
The Rabbi Who Rode Lionback
When the first Friday approached, Rabbi Masoud informed his friends that it was time to stop and take a rest …
The Maggid and the Informer
“Now that you mention it,” said the local slowly. “We do have one small problem. His name is Yankel the Informer. That man is too happy to linger around government officials and often betrays us to ingratiate himself with them. I doubt anything you can say will change his mind; he is a lost cause.”
The Missing Man
By the time the Tatars finished their raid, a great trail of blood and destruction would be left in their wake.
The Rabbi's Secret Sins
It was already quite late at night, so he was able to get to the wedding hall undetected.
The Unexpected Fortune
Rabbi Yosef came to work in the very late afternoon. He was met by a furious partner who shouted, "That’s it! I have no choice but to dissolve our partnership."
The Watercarrier Who Almost Brought a Locust Storm
"I am a water carrier," he said. "My barrel has broken beyond repair, and my children are starving. . ."
The Urchins' Revenge
They were burning with an urge for revenge. “Let us ambush the new rabbi at night and beat him to a pulp,” one suggested.
The Gold Coins That Went a Long Way
He approached Kalman with an offer: "I will pay you a decent amount if you will sell me the right to light the candles in the synagogue."
Why Were the Innkeeper's Blessings Fulfilled?
Rumors began to circulate that whenever the innkeeper gave a blessing, it would materialize. People began frequenting his inn just to receive a blessing for whatever they needed.
The Hidden Manuscript, The Grave, and the Tree
In the old cemetery in Cracow stood a great tree, whose large branches seemed to have borne the weight of centuries, and were laden with the heaviness of time.
Saved From a Muddy Grave
Every time a Jewish person died in Radoshitz, the body was transported to a neighboring town for burial. Not only was this highly inconvenient, it was antithetical to the Jewish sensibility to show honor to the deceased.
Save the Orphans
How could the rabbi claim to be supporting orphans with this money?
A Tzaddik's Repentance
When the two pupils approached, they saw their master sitting in the snow, weeping and praying. They hurriedly departed from that place.
Original Ideas
At a nearby table sat a man who would come every evening for an hour of study. Although his business consumed the bulk of his day, and his study skills were limited, he diligently pursued his nightly page of Talmud.
The Witnessing Tree
"Under a tree? Very good!" cried out Rabbi Chaim excitedly. "Go and summon that tree as a witness"
Israel Goy
How could a Jew be so indifferent to the needs of his brothers and sisters? People started referring to the rich miser in their midst as “Israel Goy,” and the epithet stuck
A Minority View
“If your Bible says that you must follow the majority,” argued the king, “then you should forsake Judaism and believe as we do!”
Channels of Truth
Whenever a human being is called upon to decide a matter of Torah law, we are faced with a paradox: how can the finite and error-prone human mind possibly determine what is G-d's will?
The Loan
Rabbi Shmuel was very careful in keeping the accounts of the free-loan fund, marking every transaction carefully in his books...
The Gift
When no one was in the synagogue, he brought in the loaves under his cloak. He prayed that G‑d should look upon his offering with favor, and eat and enjoy the lovely, freshly baked bread . . .
Tainted Soup
Ettel burst into tears as soon as she entered the famous scholar's room. She had nine sons, eight of whom were both dedicated and successful in their Torah studies. But she was upset about Moshe-Noach, her fifteen-year-old
A Prerequisite for a Blessing
He was perched on a white steed, accompanied by an entourage of soldiers. He wore a flashy uniform, and a glossy medallion, indicating his high rank, hung from his neck...
A Tzaddik’s Tear
The rabbi interrupted the narrative and said, "I don't know what the Chafetz Chaim said to that student. I only know that they were together for a few minutes. I would give anything to know what he said to the boy..."
A Purim Secret
After completing the circumcision, as he dipped his finger in the wine to place a drop in the baby’s mouth, the Chatam Sofer called out: “When wine goes in, secrets come out.” Seventy years were to pass before the significance of the great sage’s words would be revealed.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife's Foot for His Own
The doctor may have been taken aback... But actually, he wasn't mistaken.
Shlomo's Scales
It was a drastic move, but they felt they had no choice. They fasted and recited Psalms all day. Evoking ancient Kabbalistic formulas, they asked to be given a sign that night in their dreams.
The Problem
One day a rich and learned Jew came to one of the great European centers of Torah learning to search for a fitting match for his wise, pious and beautiful daughter.
A Guest, a Fish and a Prayer
A carriage pulled up in front of their door, and a distinguished-looking man alighted. No one knew who he was, but it was obvious from his appearance and deportment that here was a true Torah personality.
The Iron Necklace
Poor brides lacking the requisite necklace had been known to weep for shame on their wedding days; some even ran away so as to avoid the embarrassment.
The Wonder Horse
Finally, Reb Yehoshua set a price of 25 Napoleons—a sum that would support a family for two years. Surely, no one would be so foolhardy as to pay that kind of money for a horse . . . !
The Oath
Upon hearing the verdict of the beit din, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman turned pale. Never in his life did he imagine that he would be required to take an oath in court!
The Rooster That Did Not Crow
The squire asked Shmuel to bring the priceless diamond he had inherited from his parents. All the guests waited breathlessly to behold this rare, precious gem . . .
Purim Hebron
A new pasha came into power as ruler over Hebron, and he was a Jew-hater. He lost no time in introducing new edicts against the Jewish community . . .
The Butcher in Heaven
When she saw me, she began to cry and plead with me to rescue her. Apparently, these merchants had kidnapped her and were planning to sell her as a slave. I paid full price for her, brought her to my house, and raised her as if she were my own daughter.
When the Dead Saved the Living
Freezing and desperate to finish the burial, the funeral party turned onto the forbidden street . . .
The man was horrified. 'Please believe me,' he pleaded, 'I paid your saintly father a few days before he passed away...'
This is a story about three worthy Jews: One was a wealthy man, one a Torah scholar, and the third a deeply G-d fearing Jew…
How Maimonides outwitted his rival...
The Strange Beggar
His entire life was a secret
The Evil Queen and the Tallit Bag
The queen demanded that all Jews were to be expelled. How would they be saved?
The Holy Shopkeeper
"That night I could not sleep. Early in the morning, I returned to the store to witness with my own eyes how G-d would help."
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