Volume 1 – The Parables of Safed the Sage



It has been many years since I first encountered the wisdom of William E. Barton, contained in the parables of Safed the Sage.

Two things have continued to amaze me since then. The first is how much I still enjoy his work, each time I read it anew. The second is how very difficult and time-consuming it has been, to acquire the entire collection of these stories.

In the sincere belief others will enjoy them as well, I bring once again, from the pages of the past, all five collections of the teaching of Safed.

In a world desperately in need of truth, and just plain common sense, it is my very real pleasure to introduce to you, Safed the Sage.



Now the Women of the City where I live sought how they might secure a sum of money for a Children’s Hospital, and they devised a White Elephant Sale.

And the meaning of the words was this, that when any Woman had in her house something which she wished to Get Rid Of, she called it a White Elephant, and she gave it to the Sale.

Now as I walked in the City, I drew nigh unto the place, and I went within. And there were Books and Bonnets and Baskets, and Clothes and Candlesticks, and Pots and Pictures, and divers kinds of Tools, and Many Things of Other Sorts.

And a Damsel said to me, Wilt Thou not buy of me something?

And in her Booth were Earthen Vessels and Vessels of Brass.

And she said, Behold this Lovely Vase. Thou couldest not buy it at Marshall Field’s for Fourteen Dollars, but here it is Only a Dollar.

And I took from my purse a Dollar, and she wrapped the Vase in the Part of an old Newspaper that hath Colored Pictures, and I bore it Home.

And my wife, Keturah, met me at the door, and she spake to me and said, Whence comest thou, my lord, and what dost thou bring?

And I said, I come from the White Elephant Sale, and I have brought to thee a Lovely Present.

And I set the Vase upon the Table, and removed the Covering, and Keturah looked upon the Vase, and her countenance fell; and then she laughed.

And I answered and said unto her, Wherefore dost thou laugh?

And she said, Safed, dost thou remember the Hopkins family that lived nigh unto us when we were First Married?

And I said, Yea, I remember them, to my sorrow.

And she said, Dost thou remember which of many evil things they did to us first?

And I spake to her of the time they borrowed the Lawn-mower, and how they Didn’t Do a Thing to it save to Ruin it; and of the time their Spoiled Kid threw his Ball through the Window, and what his Fond Mother said to me when I rebuked him, and about their Chickens and their Clotheslines.

And she said, All these things they did, and many more; but the first of all the evil things they did to us was the Present they Wished on us at our Wedding. Dost thou remember what it was?

And my heart fell within me, and I answered, I think it was a Vase, but Very Unlike This One.

And she laughed again, till she wept. And she said, Safed, my lord, thou art a wise man, but no man is wise enough to visit a White Elephant Sale save his Wife be with him. Twenty years hath that Horrid Vase been in our Attic, and I never had a chance to Get Rid of it till Yesterday, when I sent it to the White Elephant Sale. And now, behold, thou hast brought it back again.

And again she laughed.

But some women would have scolded.

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