Tales : The Problem of Worrying

Perhaps you have heard of the Jewish village of Chelm. If you are not from there, you will no doubt believe, as does the whole world, that all the villagers of Chelm are fools. But if you have had the fortune to be born in that place, you will know that the people of Chelm are each and every one endowed with a marvellous and astonishing wisdom. The village is said to be somewhere in Poland – perhaps – but the villagers are careful not to say too much about where they live, for fear they would attract too many visitors seeking solutions to their problems.

It happened once upon a time that the wise men of Chelm, sitting together in their synagogue, began to discuss the problem of worrying. One by one, each man there disclosed that he spent much of his day worrying about one thing and another. What is more, the worry didn’t seem to help, because every day there was sure to be something to worry about – if not the preoccupation of the day before, then something new.

“But why should we all waste so much time worrying?” they said. “Is that wise? No!” So, they decided that they would hire Yossel, the village cobbler, to do all the worrying for them. For this service, they would pay him the sum of one ruble a week. Yossel would worry, and they would be free.

The matter seemed settled, and all felt relieved – until one of the group spoke up, and said, “Wait a minute. If Yossel is getting a ruble a week, what does he have to worry about?”

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