A prophet and a pretty woman, a rainmaker and a renegade—from them we learn about ourselves. Ancient stories that whisper truth to your soul—new in paperback!
Great stories have the power to draw the heart. But certain stories have the power to draw the heart to God and awaken the better angels of our nature. Such are the tales of the rabbis of the Talmud, colorful, quirky yarns that tug at our heartstrings and test our values, ethics, morality—and our imaginations.
In this collection for people of all faiths and backgrounds, Rabbi Burton Visotzky draws on four decades of telling and teaching these legends in order to unlock their wisdom for the contemporary heart. He introduces you to the cast of characters, explains their motivations, and provides the historical background needed to penetrate the wise lessons often hidden within these unusual narratives.
In learning how and why these oft-told tales were spun, you discover how they continue to hold value for our lives.
“This chatty, friendly overture to the lessons of the Talmud ... is excellent for casual readers as well as synagogues.”
“With great charm and wit ... provides the tools for deciphering [Talmudic] stories.... Visotzky is a master teacher ... [who] teaches the tales, going straight for the difficult parts that ultimately reveal them.”
“One of our tradition’s liveliest teachers has managed to capture all of his rare vibrancy on the page. Who knew that Midrash could read like a great detective story?”
—Abigail Pogrebin, author, Stars of David
“Both ancient and timeless … this retelling and retooling of ancient rabbinic wisdom tales [does] the sages and us a great service. Brings these … sages alive that we might hear their wisdom once more. A book to be savored.”
—Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained
“It is as if [Visotzky] were reading our minds about the questions we have been asking or had not even thought to ask.... A delightful conversational and humor-filled style.... Demystifies the Talmudic texts so that the morals and values are revealed through the brilliance of this teacher.”
—Jewish Book World
“Enlivens ancient wisdom with modern whimsy, decodes Talmudic enigmas with narrative grace, and humanizes the giants of early rabbinic Judaism in ways that make each character real, quirky and unforgettable. Has there ever been a book of solid scholarship that was this much fun to read?”
—Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author, Deborah, Golda and Me:
Being Female and Jewish in America; founding editor, Ms. magazine
“A treasure trove of information, insight and meaning. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in knowing more about rabbinic texts, traditions and history, while being charmed and entertained. Be prepared to experience rabbinic Judaism come alive!”
—Dr. Norman Cohen, author, The Way Into Torah
“Perfect for bedside reading or for a holiday afternoon.... Large doses of humor and wit…. Fascinating and informative.”
—New York Jewish Week
“A revelation…. A thrilling journey full of wisdom, humor and timeless lessons…. In short, Rabbi Visotzky has blessed us with a deep and lasting gift, a spectacular work that we want to read over and over again.”
—Rabbi Naomi Levy, author, Hope Will Find You and To Begin Again
“Easy to read, frequently humorous.”
“Reading Sage Tales is like going to the best show on Broadway followed by an elegant dinner with a critic, a holy skeptic who is illuminating, entertaining, learned and enlightening…. I loved this book!”
—Rabbi Irwin Kula, author, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life;
co-author, The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices
“Lets you reach … into the collective consciousness of Jewish value teachings and offers you a glimpse into what life ought to be and can be.”
—Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, author, First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit
“Wit, insight and deep sensitivity permeate every sentence and draw the reader into an irresistible journey to uncover the spiritual, intellectual and emotional underpinnings of rabbinic literature. [An] important contribution to the field.”
—Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR
“Lively.... [Visotzky] uses his erudition deftly to explain the social milieu in which the rabbis lived and the nuances of the original language of their tales.”
—Jewish Chronicle Online