Wit, Wisdom, Humor

Talmudic reasoning & love of learning pervade Jewish humor.

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One day, after having lectured at the great Kovno Yeshiva, the Rosh Yeshiva personally introduced to him his best student. He was partic­ularly brilliant in every subject, and Reb Yehuda took a liking to him right away. But when he asked him the same difficult question he had asked all the other candidates, the student could not find the right answer. So Reb Yehuda took leave of his host and his best student. But as he was about to get on the coach that would take him back home, the yeshiva student came rushing to Reb Yehuda and with almost no breath left, he reached him just as he was about to close the door of his coach.

"I beg of you, rebbe," asked the student, "would you be kind enough to tell me what the correct answer to the question is?"

And the rebbe smiled as he opened wide the door of his coach and he said, "Young man, you are the one; and now, come with me!"

This article is the second in a four-part series on the characteristics of Jewish humor. To read the next article in the series, click here.

This series originally appeared as a single article in Midstream magazine, which was anthologized in Best Jewish Writing 2003. It is reprinted with permission.

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Rabbi Leo M. Abrami served as the spiritual leader at Beth Emeth Congregation in Sun City West from 2002 to 2006.