Stories can be a powerful way of conveying great truths, particularly to a resistant audience. A story originally attributed to Jacob Kranz, an 18th century Russian rabbi, illustrates this well. One day, the rabbi’s students questioned him. “Why do you always teach in parables?” In reply, he told another story:
A young man named Truth was walking about naked, sad, and lonely. Then Story, a beautiful young woman dressed in resplendent clothing, saw him and asked why he was weeping. “No one will listen to me,” he sobbed. “The men of the villages throw stones at me, and the women run away screaming”
“Well, look at you,” Story said. “There is nothing attractive about you.” She removed her hat with its lovely feather and placed it upon his head. Then she took her embroidered cape and laid it around his shoulders. “Let me walk with you,” she said.
Together they walked into the village, where a large crowd gathered around them to hear stories laced with wonderful truths. The people listened to their words, thought about them, and talked to each other about them. Slowly, the messages transformed their hearts and their lives. Soon the anger that hovered over them like a dark cloud dissipated and let new joy and sunshine in.
The old rabbi’s parable has been told and retold many times, in many different ways. But its moral is one for the ages: “All truth is more acceptable if it is cloaked in story.”
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