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November 12, 2011

A fountain of wisdom gushes forth

There's this tale about a young rabbi from a small village in Eastern Europe who has decided to continue his career in America.

Before he leaves, he seeks out his mentor, a wise, revered older rabbi.

"Rabbi," asks the young man, "what is the secret to life?"

The old sage thinks for several moments and then gives his reply.

"Life," he says, "is a fountain."

The young rabbi nods and leaves to begin his journey. He doesn't exactly understand why life is a fountain, but he's certain that if he gives it enough thought, the answer will surely come to him.

The young rabbi becomes very successful in the United States, with a large synagogue and congregation. He authors several scholarly works and becomes known as one of the most accomplished clergymen in the world.

But still, the question gnaws at him, day after day, week after week, year after year. Why is life like a fountain? Why is life like a fountain?

It's driving him to distraction. He can think of little else.

He devotes his life to the question, bringing together outstanding theological and philosophical minds from the four corners of the Earth. But none of their learned theories satisfies him.

After 30 years, he hears that the old rabbi in Europe is on his death bed. Canceling all his important engagements, the younger rabbi _ now in his late 50s _ boards an airplane, hoping against hope that he's not too late to find out the answer to the question that has haunted him all of his adult life.

He arrives to find the old rabbi still alive. Running to the bedside, his voice shaking with anticipation, the former pupil asks his question.

"Rabbi," he implores, "you must tell me. Why ... why is life like a fountain?"

The wisdom of the ages in the old rabbi's eyes, he ponders his response. Finally, he speaks:

"All right," he says. "so life isn't a fountain."

It is in that vein that I tell you that life is a fountain, and furthermore, here are some other things you should know:

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