David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Ignorance, Marriage, Mass

Ignorance

• Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor received a visit from a young man who was wondering whether he should give up his belief in God and become a free thinker. Rabbi Spektor asked whether the young man had read the Talmud. The answer came back: No. Had he read Maimonides? No. Had he read the Torah? No. Had he read Moses Mendelssohn? No. The Rabbi sighed and said, “Young man, you are too ignorant to call yourself a free thinker. You should call yourself by your correct name — an ordinary ignoramus.”

Marriage

• After a man and woman of Sidon had been married for 20 years without having any children, they were required by law to get a divorce. Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai told them that just as they had had a festive banquet when they got married, so now they should have one as they got a divorce. At the banquet, the husband told his wife that although he was divorcing her, she could have whatever she valued most in what had been their house. That night, as he slept, his divorced wife ordered her servants to remove him from his house to the house of her father. When her divorced husband woke up, he asked, “Where am I?” She told him, and when he asked why he was there, she replied, “Don’t you remember your telling me last night that I may take with me whatever I like best when I return to my father’s house? Nothing in the whole world do I like better than you!” They then went to Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and remarried. (This time, she became pregnant, after the good Rabbi had prayed for her.)

• A couple of Jewish painters were working inside a Catholic church when they became intrigued by a ritual. After asking what the ritual was, they learned that a nun was being prepared for the ceremony of professional — a ceremony that could be likened to a wedding between the nun and Jesus. After asking permission, the Jews were allowed to be present at the actual ceremony, but a surprised priest asked what they were doing there. The Jews replied, “We’re relatives of the groom.”

• A Quaker thought about proposing, but hesitated because he wanted to make the right decision. However, while having tea at his loved one’s house, he asked for half a cup of tea, and she filled his cup exactly half full. This so pleased the Quaker that he proposed. Years after they were married, his wife asked him why he had decided to propose to her. He explained the matter of the half a cup of tea, and she replied, “I remember that afternoon well — there wasn’t another drop in the teapot.”

• Abraham Lincoln liked to tell a story about a soon-to-be justice of the peace who gave a marriage certificate to two people although he had not yet been authorized to hold office. The “marriage” certificate read: “To all the world Greeting. Know ye that John Smith and Peggy Myres is hereby certified to go together and do as old folks does, anywhere inside coperas precinct, and when my commission comes I am to marry them good and date em back to kivver accidents.”

• In the old days, women frequently died in childbirth, and their husbands remarried quickly. Only a few months after his first wife had died, Methodist preacher Joshua Thomas, aka “the Parson of the Islands,” proposed marriage to a young woman. She asked, “Isn’t this rather sudden?” He replied, “But I’ve had my eye on you for quite a while.”

• After Sydney Smith was married, he tossed six worn teaspoons into his bride’s lap, and then he explained that he had just fulfilled one of his marriage vows — he had endowed his wife with all his worldly goods.

Mass

• Kathleen O’Connell Chesto tells this story about attending Mass with her two-year-old daughter, Liz. In his homily, the priest described Solomon’s Temple as “magnificent.” Liz recognized the word, so she stood up and told the congregation, “My Daddy calls me magnificent.” The priest stopped his homily and said to the congregation, “Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? Each of us can say that we have a Daddy Who thinks that we are magnificent.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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