A Tale from India, China, or some say Stanislav
Re-crafted by R' Mark Novak from various sources
There was a water-bearer who had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried on a yoke across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other was as perfect as the day it was crafted. And each day the water-bearer would draw water from the stream and return up the long, narrow pathway to her mistress’s house.
Each day as she made her steep climb. By the time she returned to the house the pot with the crack had leaked half its water . The other pot remained full, always delivering a full portion.
This went on daily for days, months, years - with the water-bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her mistress’s house.
And then one day, as they stood at the edge of the river, the cracked pot apologized to the water-bearer for its imperfection. After years of arriving half-empty and feeling guilty, it spilled its heart out.
"I am so very sorry, and I want to apologize to you.”
“What do you have to be sorry for?” asked the water-bearer.
“I am ashamed that I can’t accomplish what I was fashioned to do. I am ashamed because the crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Look at your other bucket - he doesn’t leak. I don’t know why you didn’t use me for kindling a long time ago. What good is a bucket that leaks?
With great compassion, the water-bearer replied, “Let us return to the house, and as we walk, you will look and see.”
And so they did, and as they progressed up the hill, the water-bearer made a grand gesture toward the ground beneath the bucket, pointing out the same path that they had walked for years.
“Look at your side of the path - the yellow daises, the red nasurtium, , the pink and purple asters.”
The water-bearer then turned her body, so that the pot could see the other side of the path.
“Now, look at the other side - it is nothing but gravel and dirt.”
“I don’t understand,” said the cracked pot.
The water-bearer smiled. “ I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day as we returned from the stream, you watered them. The seeds sprouted and grew, and every day I return to pick beautiful flowers to adorn my mistress’s table. If you were not just the way you are, she would not have such beauty to grace her house.”
Please let me know if you use the story and in what context. I'd love to hear YOUR stories.
Enjoy a beautiful animated version of the story at
My late rebbe, R' Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, zt"l, (זכר צדיק לברכה) was a master storyteller. He taught: "a good story is one where the mind surprises the heart". "A Year of Stories" is dedicated to his memory. I invite you to forward the link to these stories so that they find their way into the hearts of other tellers and listeners.
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Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and