Jewish Bedtime Story Co-op

We all know about the Babylonian Talmud and the Palestinian Talmud, but few know of the Scrantonian Talmud that was written in the Pocono mountains several centuries ago by wandering Jewish scholars, farmers and grocers.

Here is a Tisha b'Av tale from its pages...

Once upon a time in the terraced farmland of the Northern Pocono mountains, near the intersection of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna Rivers, there lived a scholarly and pious Jewish farmer of beets, sugar beets and horseradishes.

One day a vacationing grocer came upon his farm. The grocer was looking for a good deal on beets for borscht, and some learning.

After settling on a price for the beets, the grocer asked the farmer, "please, can you teach me about farming?"

"Yes, if you like," replied the farmer, "but you must have patience. Take the room above my barn, and watch and learn"

Do you see that field there?, asked the farmer.

Yes, it is filled with nice green grass and vegetation, replied the grocer.

The farmer then took his plow and plowed the field, destroying the vegetation, digging up the roots, and leaving it brown, ugly and furrowed.

What have you done? You have destroyed the beauty, shrieked the grocer.

Watch and learn, replied the farmer.

The next day the farmer showed the grocer some seeds. They were beautiful symmetrical kernels of good color.

Those are beautiful, said the grocer.

Then the farmer went into the ugly field and began to bury the seeds in the dirty soil.

Ugh!, you are ruining those seeds, said the grocer. I could have salted them and sold them for a good price in the market, but now you have scattered them into the dirt.

Watch and learn replied the farmer

After several weeks the grocer returned to the farm to find the fields filled with rows of lush grains.

Oh! I stand corrected, said the grocer. I see that those seeds have grown, matured,and ripened into lush and wavy stalks.

As he finished his sentence the farmer took out a scythe and mowed down the lush stalks, like Boaz's workers in days of old. Leaving a scattered field of dying stalks.

The farmer replaced this ugliness with orderly stacks of the stalks.

The orderliness gladdened the grocer, but the grocer was again shocked when the farmer took the stalks and threshed them and ground them into dust.

Once again, the grocer was aghast. And again the farmer replied..... watch and learn.

The farmer took the resulting grain and mixed it in a bowl with water and other ingredients. It looked quite muddy and grotesque, and then he threw it into a burning oven.

The grocer watched.
The result was a lovely challah bread for the Sabbath.
That evening the grocer and farmer recited the hamotzi, thanking god for their ability to make the prayer and bring forth bread from a muddy field, cut down stalks, crushed grains, and burning fire.
Did the grocer understand completely?
Maybe or maybe not.
But he watched and learned and worked and learned some more. -- Revised: July 1999
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Acquired in August 1999.

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