Rabbinic wisdom- the real son and Mt 21:28-32


The Real Son: Adapted from the Agada in the Talmud. Found in A Treasury of Jewish Folklore ed Nathan Ausubel

Seems similar to Mt 21: 28 doesn’t it? Not the same but related. Jewish wisdom is great. 28 What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. . . .

The Real Son

A MAN once overheard his wife admonish their daughter: “Why aren’t you more careful? If you want to sin make sure that no one suspects you. Follow my example! Here am I, a mother of the children, yet your father doesn’t know that only one of our sons is his!”

Her husband never betrayed the slightest sign that he had overheard her, but on his deathbed he had a will drawn up leaving all his possessions, “to my only son.”

Everybody was confounded! No one knew who “the only son” was. So all the sons went to see Rabbi Banna’ah to have him decide who was to be the heir.

Rabbi Banna’ah pondered the matter and said, “Go , all of you , to your father’s grave and clamor loud and long until he reveals which one of you he had in mind as his true son and heir.”

All of the sons hastened to the cemetery, except one. He was really the “only son.” But, unlike his brothers, he was determined that he would rather lose the inheritance than insult the memory of his father.

Rabbi Banna’ah then gave his decision. “The inheritance belongs to the son who didn’t clamor at his father’s grave.”


Indeed, you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate Jewish wisdom and humor…and good rye bread or challah.

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