Gimpel the Fool

by

Isaac Bashevis Singer

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The rabbi is the chief religious authority in Frampol. He is one of the few people in the town who shows kindness and respect to Gimpel, and Gimpel frequently turns to him for advice. It is the rabbi who tells Gimpel what ends up being something like the main message of the story: “better be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. You are not a fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses paradise himself.” The rabbi is also the person who orders that Gimpel divorce his wife, Elka, after he reports her for adultery. When Gimpel comes back with a new story, declaring that he had only imagined his wife’s betrayal and he would like to get back together with Elka, the rabbi surprises him by organizing a council of rabbis from neighboring villages to discuss the matter. Nine months pass before they decide that Gimpel can return to his wife. While Gimpel does not relish the long wait, the rabbi’s need for reflection and debate may actually be part of what attracts Gimpel to him and to the scholarly Jewish books he and his fellow rabbis study. Unlike the townspeople of Frampol, they do not consider it ridiculously simple to evaluate a story; they are sensitive to the many-sidedness of every situation and, like Gimpel, take unlikely possibilities seriously.

The Rabbi Quotes in Gimpel the Fool

The Gimpel the Fool quotes below are all either spoken by The Rabbi or refer to The Rabbi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Gimpel the Fool published in 1983.
Part 1 Quotes

“It is written, better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. You are not a fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself.”

Related Characters: The Rabbi (speaker), Gimpel
Related Symbols: The Town of Frampol
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Rabbi Character Timeline in Gimpel the Fool

The timeline below shows where the character The Rabbi appears in Gimpel the Fool. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...a fool. They are the fools.” These words comfort Gimpel. On his way out, the Rabbi’s daughter tells him that he has forgotten to kiss the wall, and that it is... (full context)
Part 2
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...returns to the bakery. The next morning, he brings the  news of Elka’s betrayal to the rabbi . Elka comes to the rabbinical court and protests her innocence, but she is sent... (full context)
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The Real vs. The Imaginary  Theme Icon
Gimpel obeys the Rabbi’s orders, but soon enough he begins to yearn for his wife and son. He thinks... (full context)
Part 3
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
The Real vs. The Imaginary  Theme Icon
...his certainty that he had imagined the whole thing and is overjoyed when the Frampol Rabbi informs him that, in that case, he is welcome to go home. When he finishes... (full context)