Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
A long time ago in medieval Spain, there were three great religious leaders. Saladin was the leader of Muslims. Don Pedro led the Christians. And, the Jews were led by Ephraim Santzi. These leaders wanted to know which of their faiths was the true religion of the one God. Ephraim, in an attempt to answer the question and not offend his colleagues, responded with a story.
Once upon a time, there was a magnificent ruby that held a wonderful power. Whoever possessed this gem was blessed with kindness and understanding. The owner of this gem was a jeweler who took such good care of it that everyone marveled at its beauty, including the jeweler’s three sons. When it came to pass that the jeweler died, each son wished to inherit this magnificent ruby. And, in fact, each son did! How could this be? The jeweler had only one ruby, but when he died, each son was bequeathed a ruby of their own! The sons could not tell the gems apart. Which was the magnificent ruby that held the power of kindness and understanding? The sons were troubled and desired to know which of them possessed the ruby, so they took their gems to a judge. The judge studied the rubies and said, “I do not know which is the ruby with power. Only your father knew. But, whoever lives his life with kindness and understanding will be known as the one who possesses the special jewel.”
Saladin and Don Pedro looked at each other and smiled.They understood the message of the story.
I love this story! It really speaks to me, particularly because I work with interfaith families. It is a reminder that none of us holds the exclusionary Truth. There is no such thing. I have my path to God, and I recognize that others have equally authentic, albeit different, paths. While my truth may be different than yours, I choose to uplift the values we share and celebrate our diversity. If we all lived lives of kindness and understanding, we would see that each of us holds a jewel with power, like the jeweler in our story. Choosing to live our lives this way maintains an openness to recognize and value the truth of others, keeping us free from judgment and condemnation which too often tear us apart. I pray for the day when we each will embrace this truth. Each of us has value. Each of us has worth. And, each of us is deserving of kindness and understanding.