The Rabbi & the Rich Man
(a.k.a. The Parable of the Mirror)
Hassidic fable appearing in S. Ansky's play The Dybbuk
and in Bernard Malamud's Scene of a Play, Suppose A Wedding
as set to music by Leonard Lehrman, op. 116
You know the story of the rabbi and the rich man?
No? Well, I'll tell you!
He was rich, and a miser.
The rabbi took him to the window and said, "Look! Whadaya see?"
The rich man looked and he said,
"What do I see? I see the street. What else should I see?"
"What's in the street?" asked the rabbi.
"What's in the street?" said the rich man.
"People. They're walking in the street."
Then the rabbi took him to a mirror in the room and he said,
"What do you see now?"
"What do I see now? What should I see now?" said the rich man.
"Nat'rally, I see myself, of course."
"Aha!" said the rabbi. "You will note: In the window is glass.
And there is also glass in the mirror.
But the glass in the mirror has silver painted on the back.
And once there's the silver you stop seein' everybody else
and ya only see yaself!"