The rabbinical student is about to leave for America. When he asks his mentor for advice, the rabbi offers an adage that, he tells the student, will guide him for the rest of his life. "Always remember," the rabbi said sagely, "life is like a fountain."
Deeply impressed by his teacher's wisdom, the student departs for a successful career in America.
Thirty years later, he learns that the rabbi is dying, so he returns for a final visit."Rabbi," he says, "I have one question. For 30 years, whenever I was sad or confused, I thought about the phrase you passed on to me, and it has helped me through many difficult times. But to be perfectly frank, I have never understood the full meaning of it. Now that you are about to enter the realm of truth, tell me, dear rabbi, why is life like a fountain?"
Wearily, the old man replied, "All right, so it's not like a fountain."
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