An Empathetic Rabbi

A story related to me by my husband who heard it from a local rabbi. My apologies to all involved if I botch the story-telling:

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A rabbi was learning with his students. A knock came upon the door. In came a young boy.

Young Boy: Is a radish kosher?

The students watch as the rabbi pulls book after book off the shelf, examining each one carefully. A talmud comes down, a mishnah berurah, a kitzur shulhan orach, and other books of Jewish laws. The students smirk, wondering to themselves why the rabbi is spending so much time on such a simple question. The rabbi looks up from his books.

Rabbi: Yes, my dear boy, a radish is kosher.

Boy leaves. Students ask rabbi, why did you spend so much time on this?

Rabbi: I wanted him to know I would take him seriously. If I do not spend time on this simple question now, he will be turned off from answering more complicated questions in the future.

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This is somewhat related to my post on the Daughters of Tzlafchad, in which Moshe showed empathy with these women when they questioned him.

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