Steven Gregory's Blog: Everything You Need to Know Can Be Found in Folktales - Posts Tagged "jew"

This bit of advice can be applied equally well to your personal and professional lives. After all, of the estimated 108 billion people that have ever lived (a Population Reference Bureau estimate from 2011), not a single one has ever been you before or will be you after. So that makes you pretty special. And given how special you are, why in the world would you want to be like someone else? You have different skills, different experiences, and are wholly unique. And by applying this uniqueness to your life, you can become indispensible. So says this tongue-in-cheek Jewish tale entitled "Chelm Justice."

A great calamity befell Chelm one day. The town cobbler murdered one of his customers. So he was brought before the judge, who sentenced him to die by hanging.

When the verdict was read a townsman arose and cried out, "If Your Honor pleases -- you have sentenced to death the town cobbler! He's the only one we've got. If you hang him who will mend our shoes?"

"Who? Who?" cried all the people of Chelm with one voice.

The judge nodded in agreement and reconsidered his verdict. "Good people of Chelm," he said, "What you say is true. Since we have only one cobbler it would be a great wrong against the community to let him die. As there are two roofers in the town, let one of them be hanged instead!"

Like many other tales, the true import of this tale is found beyond the literal words. Despite the ridiculousness of the tale, the underlying truth is that when you do your own unique thing in your own unique way, people value that and don't want to lose it. That is, when they see who YOU are, they will value YOU. When you are valued, you become indispensible, and those things that are dispensible are done away with.

In the business world it's easy to see why this is important, but it's a principle also applicable in your personal life. In your relationships with people do you provide something they cannot get from someone else or something in a way that's unique? Is it the way you make them laugh, your smile, your comforting shoulder? Employ that and you will become the person that no one can do without. It obviously won't let you get away with murder, but it certainly is a key element in your relationships with others. Just be YOU.

Have a question, problem, thought, or just a comment? Want to know what fairy tales say about some other topic? Send it to me and I'll post it here!

Or, you can check out my ebook The Wisdom of Folktales Lessons on How to Live Happily Ever After available here, at, and at It's a collection of folk and fairy tales from around the world and the advice they illustrate to help you live that happy life!
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Everything You Need to Know Can Be Found in Folktales

Steven  Gregory
Based on the ebook of the same title, this blog will provide references to folk and fairy tales that will help you deal with life's little conundrums. Send email and questions to see your problems exp ...more
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