Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Those who arrived early at the village synagogue on Yom Kippur eve could not but notice the man sleeping in a corner. His soiled clothes, and the strong scent of alcohol that hovered about him, attested to the cause of his slumber at this early hour. A Jew drunk on the eve of the Holy Day? Several of the congregants even suggested that the man be expelled from the synagogue.
Soon the room filled to overflowing, mercifully concealing the sleeping drunk from all but those who stood in his immediate vicinity. As the sun made to dip below the horizon, a hush descended upon the crowd: the Rebbe entered the room and made his way to his place at the eastern wall. At a signal from the Rebbe, the ark was opened, and the gabbai began taking out the Torah scrolls in preparation for the Kol Nidrei service.
This was the moment that the drunk chose to rise from his slumber, climb the steps to the raised reading platform in the center of the room, pound on the reading table, and announce: “Ne’um attah horeissa!” The scene—the crowded room, Torah scrolls being carried out of the open ark—seen through a drunken haze, appeared to the man as the beginning of hakkafot on Simchat Torah! The drunk was confusing the most solemn and awesome moment of the year with its most joyous and high-spirited occasion.
The scandalized crowd was about to eject the man from the room when the Rebbe turned from the wall and said: “Let him be. For him, it’s already time for hakkafot. He’s there already.”
Yom Kippur 1945
The account below was related to me personally by Reb Leibel Zisman, a living witness to these unforgettable events. Leibel was 14 years old at the time, and his birthday is on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur Eve 1945/5706, Foehrenwald DP Camp, Germany.
The sun was about to set on Yom Kippur eve, the holiest day of the year.
But for us… For us it felt like Tisha B’av. Just a few months earlier we were living, if you can call that living, it was actually dying, in the unspeakable horror that was called the Gunskirchen Lager (concentration camp) in Northern Austria. It is impossible to describe the hundreds of dead bodies strewn about everywhere you turned throughout the camp. The hunger, the stench, the death, the insanity was everywhere. The Nazis, may their names and memories be forever erased, dehumanized us, turning us into ravenous sub-humans, desperate for a drop of water. Days would go by between a morsel of bread and paltry sip.
I was 14 years old when we were finally liberated on May 5, 1945. Orphaned, widowed, homeless – completely alone with no place to go – we wandered in what now appears a complete fog. But it all comes back to me as I tell the story.
We – some 5000 of us survivors – ended up in the Foehrenwald DP (displaced persons) Camp in Germany (southwest of Munich), where we spent Yom Kippur, together with the Klausenburger Rebbe, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehudah Halberstam, who tragically lost his wife and 11 children to the German beasts.
As night was falling that Yom Kippur eve all 5000 of us gathered in a makeshift shul for Kol Nidrei. As is the custom in many communities, the Klausenburger Rebbe stood up on the bimah (the platform in the center of the congregation) to share a few pre-Kol Nidrei words to awaken our hearts and prepare us for the awesome day ahead of us.
I will never forget what the Klausenberger Rebbe said that Yom Kippur eve 61 years ago. The moment was overwhelming.
With tears in his eyes he began by thanking G-d for saving our lives from the Nazi hell.
He then pointed to his kittel – the white linen robe that we traditionally wear on Yom Kippur – and began to speak (in Yiddish), slowly, deliberately, tearfully:
“One of the reasons we wear this kittel is because it is the traditional burial garment, in which we wrap a body before laying it to rest in the ground, as we do when we bury our parents and those that came before us. Wearing a kittel on Yom Kippur thus reminds us of our final day of judgment when we will be laid to rest. It therefore humbles and breaks our hearts, stirring us to do complete Teshuvah (return). The white, linen kittel is a symbol of purity that we achieve through our introspection and efforts to repair all our wrongs.
“Since the kittel reminds us of the burial shroud of those that passed on before us,” continued the Klausenberger, “why are we wearing a kittel today? Our parents and loved ones were just slaughtered without tachrichim (burial shrouds). They were buried, with or without clothes, in mass graves, or in no graves at all…”
Suddenly, the Klausenberger Rebbe began tearing off his own kittel, literally. “No kittel!” he cried out in an anguished voice. “Let us be like our parents. Let us remove our kittels, so that can recognize us. They won’t recognize us in kittels, because they are not wrapped in kittels…”
I have no words to capture the emotions pouring out of the grand Rebbe that first Yom Kippur after the horror.
Everyone gathered in the shul began to weep uncontrollably – men, women, old, young, every single person in the large hall. All our anguish, all our unbearable losses, all the humiliation and senseless dehumanization came spilling out of our guts.
It was an unforgettable sight: 5000 people sobbing. Nit geveint. M’hot ge’chlipet. Not sobbing; bawling. The floor was wet with the tears gushing from all our eyes.
What a stirring hisorerus (awakening) we experienced that Yom Kippur eve, what a remarkable hisorerus – it was unbelievable.
The Rebbe’s words rang in our ears, in every fiber of our broken beings – every one of us had just lost our closest relatives: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts. We were indelibly scarred. The words rang out: “What do we need tachrichim for?! Your father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, zeide, bobbe – they are all lying mangled in mass graves. Or in no graves at all – burned to ashes… What tachrichim? What clothes? What kittel?!...
Picture the scene: The holiest night of the year. The awesome moment just before Kol Nidrei. All the Torah scrolls lifted out of the ark. 5000 broken Jews, left shattered, orphaned without families. The saintly Klausenberger Rav standing on the bimah, ripping off his kittel – “We don’t need it…”
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
G-D THOUGHT ABOUT THIS FOR A MOMENT AND DECIDED HE’D BETTER SEND DOWN ANOTHER ANGEL TO GET A SECOND OPINION… THE SECOND ANGEL RETURNED AND CONFIRMED WHAT THE OTHER ONE SAID: EARTH WAS DEFINITELY IN DECLINE, 95% NEEDED A LOT OF IMPROVEMENT/ / ONLY 5% RIGHT WHERE THEY SHOULD BE…
IN THINKING ABOUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE SITUATION, G-D DECIDED TO SEND AN E-MAIL TO THE 5% THAT WERE REALLY DOING GOOD – WITH A LITTLE PEP-TALK, YOU KNOW, TO THANK THEM – TO GIVE THEM SOME PRAISE, SOME ENCOURAGEMENT… TO KEEP THEM GOING.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT E-MAIL SAID?............................. YOU KNOW WHAT IT SAID?... NO?... GUESS YOU DIDN’T GET ONE EITHER, HUH?
THE BAAL SHEM TOV PUT HIM OFF, BUT THE MAN PERSISTED; HE WOULDN’T GIVE UP… FOR MONTHS HE BEGGED THE TZADIK TO LET HIM SEE ELIYAHU HANAVI… HE OFFERED ENORMOUS SUMS OF MONEY, BUT THE BAAL SHEM TOV REBUFFED HIM…
FINALLY, A FEW DAYS BEFORE PASSOVER, THE BAAL SHEM TOV TOLD THIS MAN THAT HE WOULD GIVE HIM THE PROGRAM – ALLOW HIM TO SEE ELIYAHU HANAVI – ON ONE CONDITION: HE’D HAVE TO CARRY OUT HIS INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY AS CONVEYED – WITHOUT DEVIATING ONE IOTA… THE MAN READILY AGREED... “SURE REBBE, I’LL DO EXACTLY AS YOU SAY.”
“OKAY,” SAID THE BAAL SHEM, “THIS IS WHAT YOU DO… TAKE TWO BOXES AND FILL ONE WITH ENOUGH FOOD, WINE AND REFRESHMENTS FOR MANY PEOPLE… THE OTHER BOX YOU ARE TO FILL WITH CHILDREN'S CLOTHING… THEN, ON EREV PESACH (DAY BEFORE PASSOVER) TRAVEL TO THE CITY OF MINSK… ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN, RIGHT BEFORE WHERE THE FOREST BEGINS, THERE’S THIS DILAPIDATED HOUSE... FIND THAT HOUSE, AND SHORTLY BEFORE CANDLE- LIGHTING TIME AT SUNSET, KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND ASK IF THEY WOULDN’T MIND PUTTING YOU UP FOR THE HOLIDAY."
THE MAN HEARD THE INSTRUCTIONS… HE INFORMED HIS FAMILY THAT BEING THAT HE WAS ABOUT TO SEE HIS LIFE’S DREAM FULFILLED, HE WOULD HAVE TO BE AWAY FOR THE FIRST DAYS OF YOM TOV… HE THEN WENT AND DID EXACTLY AS THE BAAL SHEM TOV SAID…. HE FILLED PARCELS WITH FOOD AND CLOTHING AND WENT TO MINSK, WHERE HE FOUND THE BROKEN-DOWN HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF TOWN… HE KNOCKED ON THE DOOR. WHEN THE WOMAN OPENED IT, HE ASKED IF HE COULD STAY WITH THEM FOR THE HOLIDAY.
"HOW CAN I WELCOME YOU WHEN I DON'T HAVE ANY FOOD IN THE HOUSE!?" SHE EXCLAIMED…
"WELL I HAPPEN TO HAVE SOME BOXES HERE WITH ME," HE SAID, "I HAVE ENOUGH FOOD FOR ALL OF US."… HE CAME IN, OPENED THE BOX AND, GAVE THE CHILDREN FOOD TO EAT... THEN HE OPENED THE OTHER BOX AND THE CHILDREN ALL TOOK CLOTHES FOR THEMSELVES – THIS ONE A SHIRT, THAT ONE A JACKET, THE OTHER ONE A HAT... HE WAS THERE FOR TWO DAYS, CELEBRATING PASSOVER WITH THIS FAMILY, ALL THE WHILE WAITING TO SEE ELIYAHU HANAVI… HE DID NOT EVEN SLEEP... HOW COULD HE SLEEP?... HOW OFTEN DO YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE ELIJAH THE PROPHET?.. BUT HE SAW NO ONE…. ELIYAHU DID NOT APPEAR TO HIM…
HE RETURNED TO THE BAAL SHEM TOV AND SAID, "REBBE, I WAS IN THAT HOUSE FOR TWO DAYS AND DID NOT SEE ELIYAHU HANAVI AS PROMISED!"…
"DID YOU DO EVERYTHING I TOLD YOU?" ASKED THE BAAL SHEM TOV….
"I DID!" HE SAID…
"AND YOU DIDN'T SEE HIM?"….
"ARE YOU SURE?"
"YES, REBBE!... I DIDN'T SEE HIM!"
"IN THAT CASE,” SAID THE BAAL SHEM TOV, “YOU'LL HAVE TO RETURN FOR THE SECOND DAYS OF THE HOLIDAY… GO BACK THERE WITH A BOX OF FOOD… AGAIN, BE SURE TO ARRIVE JUST BEFORE SUNSET, BUT THIS TIME DON'T KNOCK IMMEDIATELY... WAIT FOR A WHILE AND JUST STAND IN FRONT OF THE DOOR, LISTENING."
THE MAN ONCE AGAIN TOLD HIS FAMILY THAT HE’D HAVE TO BE AWAY FOR THE SECOND DAYS AS WELL… IT WAS TOUGH, BUT THEY ALL AGREED THAT IT WAS WORTH HIS BEING AWAY THIS ONE HOLIDAY IF HE COULD FINALLY GET TO SEE ELIYAHU HANAVI…
HE WENT BACK TO THAT HOUSE IN MINSK… HE STOOD IN FRONT OF THE DOOR, LISTENING…. INSIDE HE HEARD THE CHILDREN CRYING, "MOMMY, WE'RE HUNGRY! WE HAVEN'T EATEN THE WHOLE DAY!” … TO WHICH HE HEARD THE MOTHER RESPOND, "CHILDREN!... DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE CRYING BEFORE PESACH THAT YOU HAD NO FOOD OR CLOTHES?.. AND I TOLD YOU THAT G-D WOULD SEND ELIYAHU HANAVI WHO'LL BRING YOU FOOD AND CLOTHING AND EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED!... WASN'T I RIGHT?... DIDN'T ELIYAHU COME AND BRING YOU FOOD AND CLOTHING?... HE EVEN STAYED WITH US FOR TWO DAYS!... WELL, I ASSURE YOU THAT ELIYAHU WILL COME NOW, TOO, AND BRING YOU FOOD!"…
THE CHASID THEN UNDERSTOOD WHAT HIS REBBE, THE BAAL SHEM TOV HAD MEANT…. HE KNOCKED ON THE DOOR…
He said, that you will go to someone and ask for a donation. He will turn you down. [Yes, it does happen sometimes]. You should know that his Evil Inclination is talking. So you go back again, and again he turns you down. Again, you should know that his Evil Inclination is expressing itself. When it comes to the third time, you don=t want to go ask him again. You should know, that his Evil Inclination has climbed out of him and is now in you.
At home, although the Chosid had a beard and covered his head, his clothing was that of the regular person, i.e. short coat, regular hat etc. The Chosid would travel to his Rebbe a few times a year, and when he was by his Rebbe he would wear Chasidic garb, i.e. long coat, chasidic hat etc.
One time the Chosid thought to himself that this was hypocritical. >Am I trying to fool the Rebbe=, he thought. >I should dress by the Rebbe the same way I dress a whole year round.= And the next time he came to the Rebbe, he didn=t change his clothes and wore the clothes that he wore year round at home.
At the end of his visit, the Chosid had a private audience with the Rebbe. At the end of his audience, the Rebbe turned to the Chosid and expressed his disappointment in the Chosid=s garb. The Rebbe said, that he understands full well that the Chosid does not wear Chasidic garb when he is back home in the big city, and it is only when he come to the Rebbe that he puts on Chasidic garb. >But I always thought that the people back home were being fooled by your clothing. Now I see that it is I who was being fooled.=
Today is Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur many of us act differently than we do all year round. Maybe we do things during the year and on Shabbos and Festivals, that we are more careful with and restrict ourselves from on Yom Kippur. So then who is the real person? The year round person or the Yom Kippur person. Are we fooling ourselves on Yom Kippur, or is the Yom Kippur person the real person and we disguise ourselves year round.
Monday, October 6, 2008
BENCH CRYING... CRYING, SOMEONE
ASKED, WHY ARE YOU CRYING? HE REPLIED
I HAVE JUST MARRIED THIS BEAUTIFUL 30 YEAR
OLD GIRL, SHE IS WONDERFUL, SHE COOKS
DELICIOUS MEALS, SHE KEEPS THE HOUSE VERY
CLEAN, THE MAN ASKED: SO
WHY ARE YOU CRYING? THE ELDERLY MAN ANSWERED: I FORGOT
WHERE I LIVE.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The phone rings at KGB headquarters.
"Hello, is this KGB?"
"Yes. What do you want?"
"I'm calling to report my neighbor Yankel Rabinovitz as an enemy of the State. He is hiding undeclared diamonds in his firewood."
"This will be noted."
Next day, the KGB goons come over to Rabinovitz's house. They search the shed where the firewood is kept, break every piece of wood, find no diamonds, swear at Yankel Rabinovitz and leave. The phone rings at Rabinovitz's house.
Did the KGB come?"
"Did they chop your firewood?"
"Yes, they did."
"Okay, now its your turn to call. I need my vegetable patch plowed."
One Hundred Dollars Cash To Anyone Who Joins This Church Today!
Here was the solution to Feldman's problem! He went in, joined, and was given the hundred dollars as the sign promised. That evening, at supper, he told his family how he had come by his sudden wealth. "And here's the hundred," he announced grandly, waving the money before them.
"Darling," said his wife, "you remember that coat you promised me three years ago? Well it's on sale at Macy's."
"How much is it?"
"Only fifty dollars, and it's worth at least eighty five."
Feldman peeled off five tens and gave them to her.
The son spoke up. "Pop, for a long time I've been saving up to buy one of those English bikes with ten gear shifts. I already have most of the money, but I need a little more."
"How much more?"
"Twenty five dollars."
Feldman handed over the money.
"Daddy," said his teen age daughter, "next week our school is having the most important dance of the whole year. If I don't have a new dress, I'll simply die."
"Don't die Sweetheart. How much is the dress?"
"Only twenty five dollars, Daddy dear."
Feldman handed over the remaining twenty five dollars, leaned back and grinned. "It never fails," he announced. "The minute we Gentiles have a little money, you Jews take it away from us!"
Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg go out to see My Fair Lady on stage. This is the most sold out show of the year, and scalpers are retiring on this one.
Somehow, they've lucked into front row seats. But they notice that in the row behind them, there's an empty seat. When intermission comes and no one has sat in that seat, Mrs. Greenberg turns to the woman sitting next to it and asks, "Pardon me, but this is such a sold out show, and in such demand. We were wondering why that seat is empty."
The woman says, "That's my late husband's seat."
Mrs. Greenberg is horrified and apologizes for being so insensitive.
But a few minutes later, she turns around again.
"Without meaning to be rude or anything, this is an incredibly hard show to get into. Surely you must have a friend or a relative who would have wanted to come and see the show?"
The woman nods, but explains, "They're all at the funeral."
His friend asked, "What do you mean? How could you be richer?"
"I'd do a little teaching on the side."
"Before you oh Lord, I am nothing."
The Cantor looks at him, thinks it couldn't hurt, and kneels, puts his forehead to the floor, and says, "Before you oh Lord, I am nothing."
Ben Shapiro in the fifth row is watching this and thinking that it was a pretty good idea, so he goes in the middle of the isle, kneels and puts his forehead to the floor and says,
"Before you oh Lord, I am nothing."
The Rabbi nudges the Cantor. "!"
An Irishman collapses in the middle of the street and thinking the end has come blurts out"a priest,get me a priest!"
A policeman arrives and asks the crowd gathering if anyone is a priest.
An old Jewish man comes
forward and says " Officer,I'm not a priest or even Catholic,but I've lived behind St. Mary's church for 30 years and I think I know the service by heart."
The policeman says to go ahead, the Irishman will probably not know the difference.
The elderly Jew kneels beside him, clasps his hands
together,and solomnly intones" B11,O42,N24....."
A Ukrainian merchant and a Jew happen to travel in the same compartment of a train.
And, as always in cases like this, the Ukrainian anti-Semite is only happy to show his spite to everything Jewish, so this is how their discussion goes:
Merchant: "You know, sir, I have a habit of using three sorts of newspapers when traveling: one Ukrainian which I read, the other Russian which I use to wrap my breakfast in, and the Jewish one which I use to wipe myself when I use a toilet."
Jew: "Aren't you afraid, with all due respect, that this way, your behind is apt to become more clever than your head?"
An old Jew with two big bags walks on a railway station in Germany, sees a German and asks him:
"Excuse me, what do you think about Jews?"
"Oh, I like Jewish culture and I love Jewish nation!"
The old Jew walks further and asks another German:
"Please, tell me, do you like Jews?"
"Of course! Their mind and talent amaze me!"
The old Jew walks further and asks the third German:
"Do you like Jews?"
"What?! I hate them all! I hate them!"
"I see you are an honest man! Look for my luggage while I am in a WC."
A guy wanted to get in the temple on Yom Kippur, but without a ticket they don't let you in. He said, "Look, I just want to give a message to a friend in there."
The guy at the door says, "Sorry, you got to have a ticket."
The first guy replies, "Just let me in for one minute, then I'll be right out."
"Alright," says the guy at the door, "but I better not catch you praying."
Moisha Rabinowitz in the late 1930s fled his native land of Germany.
He sold all his assets and converted it to gold and then had 5 sets of solid gold false teeth made.
When he arrived in New York the customs official was perplexed as to why anybody would have 5 sets of gold teeth.
So Moisha explained: "We Orthodox Jews have two separate sets of dishes for meat products and dairy products but I am so kosher and religious I also have separate sets of teeth."
The customs official shook his head and said, "Well that accounts for two sets of teeth. What about the other three?"
Moisha then said "Vell us very religious Orthodox Jews use separate dishes for Passover, but I am so religious I have separate teeth, one for meat and one for dairy food.
The customs official slapped his head and then said, "You must be a very religious man with separate teeth for food and dairy products and likewise for Passover. That accounts for four sets of teeth. What about the fifth set?"
"Vell to tell you the truth, once in a while I like a ham sandwich."
A small town had two churches, Presbyterian and Methodist, and a Synagogue.
All three had a serious problem with squirrels in their buildings. Each in its own fashion had a meeting to deal with the problem.
The Presbyterians decided that it was predestined that squirrels be in the church and that they would just have to live with them.
The Methodists decided they should deal with the squirrels lovingly. They humanely trapped them and released them in a park at the edge of town. Within 3 days, they were all back in the church.
The Jews simply voted the squirrels in as members. Now they only see them at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
One day a Priest, a Pastor and a Rabbi were talking. Then suddenly the Priest says "lets see who can convert a bear to their religion".
So the Priest the Pastor and Rabbi all take turns in going into the woods and finding a bear to convert.
First the Priest comes back with some scratches on his face and says " The bear was fierce but as soon as I put some holly water on its head it just stopped".
Then the Pastor comes out with what looks like a broken arm and says "The bear was tackling me to the ground but as soon as we fell into a lake and I baptized it he was calm.
Then, 2 days later, the Priest and the Pastor go to the Hospital to find the Rabbi lying in bed with full body in cast. They asked "What happened?" the Rabbi replies "Maybe circumcision wasn't the best way to start".
Rabbi and his wife were cleaning up the house.
The Rabbi came across a box he didn't recognize.
His wife told him to leave it alone, it was personal.
One day she was out and his curiosity got the best of him.
He opened the box, and inside he found 3 eggs and $2000.
When his wife came home, he admitted that he opened the box, and he asked her to explain the contents to him.
She told him that every time he had a bad sermon, she would put an egg in the box..........
He interrupted, "In twenty years, only three bad sermons, that's not bad."
His wife continued...... and every time I got a dozen eggs, I would sell them for $1."
Three Rabbi's disucssing problems in their Synagogues with Rats.
The first Rabbi says I managed to get all of the rats into a trap, put them in my car drove them up the freeway 100 miles, and dumped them on the side of the road and when i returned they were there again.
The second Rabbi says I had the same problem so managed to trap them into a container and drove them all up the freeway 500 miles and when I got back the same rats were there in the Synagogue.
The third Rabbi says you weren't thinking cleverly enough, I got all of the 100 rats that were in my Synagogue got each one up on the Bimma and made them have a barmitzvah and since then I haven't seen them since.
Jack was coming out of shul one day, and the rabbi was standing at
the door ashe always did to shake hands.
The rabbi grabbed Jack by the hand and pulled him aside.
The rabbi said to him, "You need to join the Army of HaShem!"
Jack replied, "I'm already in the Army of HaShem, Rabbi."
The rabbi questioned, "How come I almost never see you except at Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur?!"
Jack whispered back, "I'm in the secret service."
A rabbi, a priest, and a minister are discussing what they do with donations to their respective religious organizations.
The minister says that he draws a circle on the floor, throws the money up in the air, and whatever lands in the circle, he gives to God, and whatever lands outside the circle, he keeps.
The priest uses a similar method. He draws the circle, but whatever lands outside the circle, he gives to God, and whatever lands inside, he keeps.
The rabbi has a slightly different method of dividing the money. He throws all the money up in the air. Whatever God wants, he keeps...
It’s Sunday evening and Rabbi Levy is in deep conversation with his friend.
"I must tell you something, Moshe," he says, "I made nine people very, very happy today."
"A mitzvah, Rabbi, a true mitzvah," says Moshe, "but tell me how did you manage to achieve this?"
"I performed four marriage ceremonies in my synagogue this afternoon," replies Rabbi Levy.
Moshe is puzzled. "I can see how you made eight people happy, Rabbi, but what about the ninth?"
"Do you really believe I did all this for free?" replies Rabbi Levy.
In a large Florida city, the Rabbi developed quite a reputation for impressive sermons, so much so, that everyone who was Jewish in the community came every Shabbat.
Unfortunately, one weekend a member had to visit Long Island for his nephew's bar mitzvah, but he didn't want to miss the Rabbi's sermon. So he decided to hire a Shabbat goy to sit in the congregation and tape the sermon so he could listen to it when he returned.
Other congregants saw what was going on, and they also decided to hire Shabbat goys to tape the sermon so they could play golf instead of going to Shul. Within a few weeks time there were 500 gentiles sitting in Shul taping the Rabbi.
The Rabbi got wise to this. The following Shabbat he, too, hired a Shabbat goy who brought a tape recorder to play his prerecorded sermon to the 500 gentiles in the congregation who dutifully recorded his words on their machines...
... Marking the first incidence in history of artificial insermonation.
Moshe goes to see his Rabbi. "Rabbi, last week I missed saying grace after meals."
"Why," asked the Rabbi.
"Because I forgot to wash my hands before the meal."
"That's twice you've broken the law but you still haven't told me why."
"The food wasn't kosher."
"You ate non-kosher food?" asked the Rabbi.
"It wasn't a Jewish restaurant."
"That makes it even worse," said the now angry Rabbi. "Couldn't you have eaten in a kosher one?"
"What, on Yom Kippur?"
Sunday, September 28, 2008
immigrant family celebrated the Bas Mitzvah of their daughter. Their family had not
marked a Bar or Bas Mitzvah in over 100 years, as doing so in Russia was impossible.
Before the party began, an American-born Jew approached the Chabad rabbi
and asked: "I don't understand—how did Jews from the Former Soviet Union
succeed in maintaining their Jewish identity? It's one thing to be a Jew in America,
where a Jewish boy typically gets a bris, and then goes to Hebrew school, and then,
when he celebrates his Bar Mitzvah, he feels like a complete Jew. But in Russia there
were no circumcisions as it was against the law—doing a bris could get you a few
years in Siberia. And who even dreamed of Hebrew school or Bar Mitzvahs? How
did they succeed in standing strong? What gave them the strength to protect their
The shliach answered him: The first time a Jewish boy in Russia got beaten up in
school because he was Jewish, and was called "Zhid" despite not being sure
whether he really was a Jew in the first place since his parents hid the fact from
him—this beating was his bris. The second beating was his "Siddur Party," the small
celebration typically held in kindergarten or First Grade when little Jewish kids
receive their first prayer book. And the third time was his Bar Mitzvah—after all all
that, he is confirmed as a complete Jew.
In Russia, the shliach continued, it was not hard at all to remember that you're
Jewish. The non-Jews would take pains to remind you at every opportunity and any
In the United States, however, we are liable to quickly forget our true identity:
who we are, where we come from, and where we're headed. In America must we
seek means to ensure that the fact that we are Jews is remembered well, and that
above all, that our children remember it well.
Wiesenthal – told when he once spoke at a conference of European
Rabbis in Bratislava in Slovakia. The rabbis presented the 91-year-old Wiesenthal
with an award, and Mr.Wiesenthal, visibly moved, told them the
It was in Mauthausen, shortly after liberation. The camp was visited
by Rabbi Eliezer Silver, head of Agudas Harabonim (Union of Orthodox
Rabbis of North America), on a mission to offer aid and comfort to the
survivors. Rabbi Silver also organized a special service, and he invited
Wiesenthal to join the other survivors in prayer. Mr. Wiesenthal declined,
and explained why.
“In the camp,” Mr. Weisenthal said to Rabbi Silver, “there was one religious
man who somehow managed to smuggle in a siddur (prayer book).
At first, I greatly admired the man for his courage -- that he’d risked his
life in order to bring the siddur in. But the next day I realized, to my horror,
that this man was ‘renting out’ this siddur to people in exchange for food.
People were giving him their last piece of bread for a few minutes with the
prayer book. This man, who was very thin and emaciated when the whole
thing started, was soon eating so much that he died before everyone else
-- his system couldn’t handle it.”
Mr. Wiesenthal continued: “If this is how religious Jews behave, I’m not
going to have anything to do with a prayer book.”
Wiesenthal turned to walk away, Rabbi Silver touched him on the shoulder
and gently said in Yiddish, “You silly man. Why do you look at the
Jew who used his siddur to take food out of starving people’s mouths?
Why don’t you look at the many Jews who gave up their last piece of bread
in order to be able to use a siddur? That’s faith. That’s the true power of the
siddur.” Rabbi Silver then embraced him.
“I went to the services the next day,” said Wiesenthal.
who visited the Kotel, the Western Wall to pray twice a day every day for
over five decades.
In an effort to check out the story, she goes to the holy site and there he
is. She watches the old man at prayer and after about 45 minutes, when he
turns to leave, she approaches him for an interview. “I’m Rebecca Smith
from CNN, sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall and
“For about 50 years,” he informs her. “That’s amazing! What do you
pray for?” “I pray for peace between the Jews and Arabs. I pray for all the
hatred to stop and I pray for all of our children to grow up in safety and
“And how do you feel, sir, after doing this for 50 years?”
“Like I’m talking to a brick wall!”
Since today is Rosh Hashanah, and the
"How dare you wake me up at this time!" yelled the banker.
The shnorer responds: "Mr. Banker, listen to me. I don't tell you when to begin working in the morning, so please don't tell me when I am to begin working in the morning."
In the 16th Century, an innocent Jew was thrown into prison by a feudal baron who gave him a life sentence. For some reason, this tyrannical baron decided to show the man a bit of mercy. He told him, “Look Jew, you’re my prisoner for life, there’s nothing that will change that. But this I will do for you: I will grant you one day out of every year, one day of freedom during which you can return to your family, to your community. You can practice your religion, do whatever you want. I don’t care which day you choose. But remember, you have only one day a year; you decide for yourself which day it will be.”
The man was conflicted. What day should he choose?
Should he choose Rosh Hashanah – to hear the sounding of Shofar? Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year? Passover – to celebrate a Seder? His wedding anniversary?
This Jewish prisoner, not being able to make up his mind, wrote a letter to one of the rabbinic leaders of that generation, the Radbaz (Reb Dovid ben Abi Zimra), asking for his advice (3).
The Radbaz wrote him back an answer. He said, the day you should choose is the very first day available. Whatever it is, grab it now, don’t wait! Be it a holiday, a Shabbat, a Monday, a Wednesday, the soonest day you can get out, grab it.
This was a marvelous reply. More important, it holds true for us as well. We too, are often psychological prisoners to our bad habits. We feel it is too difficult to summon the will to do things right. “I’m not ready yet. I can’t change who I am.”
Rolls-Royce, rolls down his window, and smiles at the driver of the Rolls,
“Hey, buddy, that’s a nice car. Have you got a phone in it? I’ve got one in
David, the driver of Rolls looks over and says simply, “Yes, I have a
“Cool!” continues Shlomo. “Have you got a fridge in there, too? I got a
fridge in the back seat of my Yugo!”
David, looking annoyed, says, “Yes, I have a refrigerator.”
Shlomo goes on, “That’s great! Listen, have you got a TV in there? I got
a one right next to me.”
David, looking very annoyed by now, says, “Of course I have a television.
A Rolls-Royce is the finest luxury car in the world!”
“Say,” persists Shlomo, “Have you got a bed in your car? I got one in
the back of my Yugo!”
Upset that he hadn’t, David immediately drove off straight to his dealer
and demanded that a bed be installed in the back of the car. The next morning
David picked up his car, with a superb bed in it, a bed fit for a Rolls
David immediately went searching for the Yugo, and only late in the
afternoon he found it parked, with all its windows fogged up from the
He knocked on the Yugo, and finally Shlomo stuck his head out, soaking
“I now have a bed in the back of my Rolls-Royce,” David stated arrogantly.
“What?!” complained Shlomo, “You got me out of the shower to tell me
The Rebbe of Modzitz, Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Elazar, had Chassidim
throughout the major towns and cities of Poland. One of these was Reb
Azriel David Fastag, who was noted for his exceptional voice throughout
Warsaw. Many came to the shul where Reb Azriel David and his brothers,
who were also blessed with lovely voices, would pray on the High Holy
Days. Reb Azriel David would lead the prayers, while his brothers accompanied
him as a choir. His crisp, clear and moving voice had a profound
effect on all who heard him.
Reb Azriel David lived simply, earning his livelihood from a small clothing
store, but his happiness and fulfillment came from another source -- the
world of Chassidic music. His moving tunes made their way to Otvoczk
(a suburb of Warsaw), where his Rebbe, Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Elazar appreciated
them immensely. The day a new niggun (melody) by Reb Azriel
David arrived was a festive day for for the Rebbe.
Dark clouds began to cover the skies of Europe -- the clouds of Nazism.
In spite of the terrible decrees, the yellow patch and the ghettoes, most
Jews could not fathom what was about to befall them. Only a few managed
to escape the clutches of the Nazi occupation to safe havens. One of them
was the Modzitzer Rebbe, Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar, whose Chassidim
made a tremendous effort to save him. As the Nazis entered Poland, the
Chassidim smuggled him out of Poland to Vilna, in Lithuania, and from
there he made his way across Russia to Shanghai, China, eventually arriving
in America in 1940.
Meanwhile in Poland tens of thousands of Jews were being shipped off
daily to their death in cattle cars that were part of the railway system.
Roused from their warm beds in Warsaw in the middle of the night, husbands
were separated from their wives, children wrested from the arms
of their parents. The elderly were often shot on the spot, in front of their
loved ones. Then the Jews were gathered and sent off in those trains to a
place where their existence would no longer trouble the Nazis -- to Auschwitz,
Inside the crowded cars, over the clatter of the cattle cars’ wheels, rose
the sounds of people gasping, sighing, weeping and dying. One could hear
the stifled cries of children crushed together. But in one such car, headed
toward the infamous death camp Treblinka, the sound of singing could be
It seems that an elderly Jew, wrapped up in his ragged clothing, his face
white as snow, had made his way over to his neighbor on the death train,
begging him to remind him the tune of Ma’areh Kohen sung by Modzitzer
Rebbe during the Yom Kippur service.
“Now? Now, what you want to hear is niggunim?” answered the other,
with a hard look at the Chassid, thinking that maybe all the suffering had
caused him to lose his mind.
But this Modzitzer Chassid, Reb Azriel David Fastag, was no longer
paying attention to his friend, or to anyone else on the train. In his mind, he
was at the prayer stand next to his Rebbe on Yom Kippur, and it is he who
was leading the prayer before the Rebbe and all the Chassidim.
the Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith: Ani ma’amin b’emuna sheleima,
b’viat hamoshiach; v’af al pi she’yismamaya, im kol zeh, achakeh lo
b’chol yom she’yavo -- “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the
Moshiach; and even though he may tarry, nevertheless, I wait each day for
his coming.” Closing his eyes, he meditated on these words and thought,
“Just now, when everything seems lost, is a Jew’s faith put to the test.”
It was not long before he began to hum a quiet tune to these words.
There, amidst the death and despair on the train to Treblinka, the Chassid
was transformed into a pillar of song, bringing forth out of his bloodied
lungs the song of the eternity of the Jewish People. He was unaware of the
silence in the cattle car, and of the hundreds of ears listening attentively
in amazement. He also didn’t hear the voices as they gradually joined his
song, at first quietly, but soon growing louder and louder.
The song spread from car to car. Every mouth that could still draw a
breath joined in Reb Azriel Dovid’s Ani Ma’amin.
As if waking from a dream, Reb Azriel David opened his eyes to the
sight of the singing train. His eyes were red from crying, his cheeks wet
with tears. In a choked voice, he cried out: “I will give half of my portion
in Olam Habbah (the World to Come) to whoever can take my song to the
A hushed silence descended upon the train. Two young men appeared,
promising to bring the song to the Rebbe at any cost. One of them climbed
upon the other, and finding a small crack of the train’s roof broke out a
hole from which to escape. Poking his head out under the open sky, he
said, “I see the blue heavens above us, the stars are twinkling and the
moon, with a fatherly face, is looking at me.”
“And what do you hear?” asked his companion.
“I hear,” the young man answered, “the angels on high singing Ani
Ma’amin, and it’s ascending to the seven firmaments of heaven!”
Bidding farewell to their brothers and sisters on the train, the two proceeded
to jump off, one after the other. One was killed instantly from the
fall. The other survived, taking the memory of the song with him. He eventually
found his way to Land of Israel (perhaps to the Modzitzer Rebbe’s
son, the author of Imrei Aish, who was in Tel-Aviv), and the notes were
sent by mail to Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar in New York.
Upon receiving the notes and having the Reb Azriel Dovid’s Ani
Ma’amin sung before him, the Modzitzer Rebbe said: “When they sang
Ani Ma’amin on the death train, the pillars of the world were shaking. The
Almighty said, ‘Whenever the Jews will sing Ani Ma’amin, I will remember
the six million victims and have mercy on the rest of My People.’”
It is told that on the first Yom Kippur that the Modzitzer Rebbe sang
the Ani Ma’amin, there were thousands of Jews in the shul. The entire
congregation burst into tears, which fell like water into the pool of tears
and blood of the Jewish people. The tune soon spread throughout world
“With this niggun,” said Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar, “the Jewish people
went to the gas chambers. And with this niggun, the Jews will march
to greet Moshiach.”
the Baal Shem Tov - went up to Heaven to see what was happening there.
The things he saw there were so incredible that they are simply impossible
On his way back to Earth, the Baal Shem Tov stopped off in Gan-Eden-
Hatachton, (the lowest of the seven Gan-Eden’s), where he met many different
types of souls. The souls immediately recognized the great Tzaddik,
and together as one they begged him to please help them reach higher
places in Heaven. Reb Yisrael saw how happy they were that he had come
and how certain they were that he would help them and go up with them
to higher places - therefore he agreed to do it. However, since Reb Yisrael
had never gone so high before, he was afraid that he might be unable to
come all the way down again; he therefore asked his Rebbe, Achiya Hashilony,
to come with him, for Reb Yisrael felt safer with his teacher at his
side. (Achiya Hashilony was a prophet who had lived from the times of
ancient Egypt all the way to the times of King Shlomo; although he had
already passed away, he would come to the Baal Shem Tov to teach him
The Baal Shem Tov, Achiya Hashilony and the souls then began to soar
up high into Heaven. They went highand higher, coming to places so high
in fact, that even Reb Yisrael himself had never been to them before. They
came to an incredibly high place and there, before their eyes, stood the
heavenly palace of Moshiach, which is where Moshiach learns Torah with
all the Tannaim and Tzaddikim who have already passed away.
Reb Yisrael entered the palace and saw that everyone there was very
happy about something. He wasn’t sure about what but was afraid that
maybe it was because he had died, and that’s why the Tzaddikim were so
happy - because he had come to join them. However, they reassured him
that his time to leave the world had not yet come.
Reb Yisrael then asked Moshiach, “When are you coming, Master?”
“When your teachings will spread to the rest of the world!” Moshiach
Upon hearing those words the holy Baal Shem Tov immediately returned
to Earth and spread his teachings far and wide, in greater amounts and to
more people than he had ever done before.
‘How can it be that such a respectable Torah figure as himself gives any
sort of attention, no less honor, to such Torah-hating Jews?
The Rebbe answered, ‘When a Jew wakes up in the morning on Yom
Kippur, shaves, cooks breakfast, turns on the radio and while eating (all
these things are transgressions) hears the announcer say “Today is the Jewish
Day of Atonement, thousands of Jews throughout the world are….. “
Suddenly he remembers that he bought tickets to the services. He looks
at his watch, grabs the cup of coffee runs out of the house to his car, drives
to the Synagogue, runs inside, takes his seat and opens his prayer book for
Suddenly he slaps himself on the forehead and yells out ‘OY! I’m late
for the meeting in the stock market!’ He closes his book and runs out of
the house of prayer.
Concluded the Rebbe: You have no idea how much pleasure G‑d gets
from that fifteen minutes that that Jew sat in the Synagogue.
Almost unexplainably Jews throughout the world suddenly are moved.
It’s not because they are thinking about punishment or reward, but rather
because they feel that G‑d is the creator of the world and they want to
Rosh HaShanna is the date that G‑d finished creating the world and
the date that He created man. And that is what every Jew feels, at least
That G‑d is the King of the Universe and we are his servants.
This is the message of the Shofar and it will only be completely manifested
with the arrival of Moshiach. Then the ‘Great Shofar’ will sound and
the entire world will declare (as we say in the prayers of these High Holy
Days) “The G‑d of Israel is King and His kingship is on all creation.” So
what we are really all praying for on Rosh HaShanna is that we all....
Have a healthy, happy, sweet New Year with Moshiach NOW!!
farmer goes to the big city for market day makes a nice profit passes a clothing store and decides to treat himself to a suit the salesman looks at him gives him a suit to try on and he goes into the changing room. The sales man hears angry grunts and scuffling coming from the room he opens the curtain and sees the way the poor man has one hand in and is caught and is trying to push the other hand in and the suit is ripping he yells at the salesman what did you give me this is not big enough for a child!!??
a moshul the mezritcher Maggid told dr. gaurdia a Baal Teshuva who was the personal doctor of the king of Prussia when asked regarding how to deal with the thoughts etc. of his old life.
A Jew named Moshe ran a tavern in a small town made a decent living but got sick of how the peasants would get drunk and vulgar they would become and tear the place apart so he decided to change his tavern into a grocery store but the peasants used to spending the nights at Moshke's place would show up banging on the door asking for a drink and he would yell you got the wrong place I no longer run a bar I run a grocery!!! This is what you have to do tell your thoughts I am no longer the man I once was you got the wrong address it just takes some time.
story of king.. hunting with his friend who always had a postivie “this is good” atitude… the friend prepared the kings gun… didn’t do something right.. king blew off his own finger… the frieND said “this is good”… king furious.. has him locked up… year later king is hunting… captured by cannibals… tie him up… set up the stake for the bar-b-que… they notice he’s missing a finger… rule of cannibals.. can’t eat anyone that is less than perfect.. let him go.. relaizes his frieND saved his life… and that it was good… went to jail and said “you were right”… so sorry what i did to you.. you were my friend.. “this was good”.. how can you say that… if i had not been in jail.. i would have been with you….
There is a story of a mother who calls her Rabbi late one night in a panic. ‘Rabbi, what should I do when my son has trouble making friends or has difficulty with tests, how will he adjust to college?!’ ‘Don’t worry my dear friend.’ the rabbi replies when suddenly he hears the sounds of a crying child in the background. ‘How old is your son?’ the Rabbi asks.
‘He is two years old,’ comes the mothers reply.
Stopped on one occasion by a military policeman for pushing the speed limit by driving 75 m.p.h. when the military speed limit was 44 m.p.h., Dayan said with a wry smile: "I have only one eye. What do you want me to watch—the speedometer or the road?"
A man comes home from an exhausting day at work, plops down on the couch in front of the television, and tells his wife, "Get me a beer before it starts."
The wife sighs and gets him a beer. Fifteen minutes later, he says, "Get me another beer before it starts."
She looks cross, but fetches another beer and slams it down next to him. He finishes that beer and a few minutes later says "Quick, get me another beer, it's going to start any minute."
The wife is furious. She yells at him "Is that all you're going to do tonight? Drink beer and sit in front of that TV? You're nothing but a lazy, drunken, fat slob, and furthermore ..."
The man sighs and says, "It's started ..."
Which Way to Galilee? Do you know where you come from?
A young boy was traveling from Jerusalem to the Galilee. He arrived at a four-way crossroads and discovered, to his horror, that the sign had fallen down.
Now he had no way to know which road to take to reach his destination. What was he to do?
The answer was simple. He knew where he was coming from - Jerusalem. By arranging the sign so that Jerusalem pointed to the path he had just come from, he was able to figure out which way to go.When we know where we have come from, we can know where we are going.
A Walk Through the Desert What is forgiveness?
Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped
was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND
SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.
After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?"
The other friend replied "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."
LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND - FORGIVE AND FORGET - AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.
The Carrot, the Egg and the Cup of Coffee
How do you handle adversity?
It's the tale of a carrot, an egg and a cup of coffee . . .
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
Her mother brought her daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial - hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside I am bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Are You Poor? Do we appreciate everything we have?
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the purpose of showing his son how poor people live.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great, Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yes," said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a
river that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.
Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go
beyond our sight.
We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.
2) The Elderly Carpenter Life is a 'Do-it-Yourself' project
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."
The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.
You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. "Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow.
So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building, then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. But we cannot go back.
A King had an only son, the apple of his eye. The King wanted his son to master different
fields of knowledge and to experience various cultures, so he sent him to a far-off
country, supplied with a generous quantity of silver and gold. Far away from home, the son
squandered all the money until he was left completely destitute. In his distress he
resolved to return to his father's house and after much difficulty, he managed to arrive
at the gate of the courtyard to his father's palace.
In the passage of time, he had actually forgotten the language of his native country, and
he was unable to identify himself to the guards. In utter despair he began to cry out in a
loud voice, and the King, who recognized the voice of his son, went out to him and brought
him into the house, kissing him and hugging him.
The meaning of the parable: The King is G-d. The prince is the Jewish people, who are
called "Children of G-d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). The King sends a soul down to this world in
order to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot. However, the soul becomes very distant and forgets
everything to which it was accustomed to above, and in the long exile it forgets even its
own "language." So it utters a simple cry to its Father in Heaven. This is the blowing of
the shofar, a cry from deep within, expressing regret for the past and determination for
the future. This cry elicits G-d's mercies, and He demonstrates His abiding affection for
His child and forgives him.
Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav once said to his daughter, Edel, "A certain Jew
once prayed before a cat." He then explained to his surprised daughter,
"When this Jew was praying in his room, he heard some pushing and scratching
against the door, and he thought, 'Some of my admirers among the hasidim
want to hear me praying!' So he began to pray more loudly and fervently. But
actually it was just a cat rubbing up against the door and scratching it,
making it shake. So he was praying to a cat (may God save us)!"
Rebbe Yisrael of Ger was so gentle and loving to those who had strayed from
Judaism that his hasidim were actually somewhat confounded. He once
explained by a parable: "A child climbed up a ladder and fell down. His
father slapped him and warned him never to do that again, lest he break his
leg. But if the child falls from a ladder and breaks his leg, then his
father runs to help and comfort him; he doesn't punish him. He rushes to
take him to the doctor and hospital." (Paraphrased from Pe'er Yisrael,
5. Over the Wall to the Sukkah
Rabbi Abraham of Slonim (the Yesod HaAvodah) arrived at the synagogue in the
morning on the first day of Sukkot and found a Jewish soldier there. The
rebbe called him over and said, "I see light shining from you. What did you
do?" The soldier was speechless; he had no idea what to say. But when the
rebbe pressed him he told the rebbe what had happened the previous night,
the first night of Sukkot. He was a guard in his army camp and was feeling
badly that he wouldn't he able to observe the mitzvah of being in a sukkah.
Then he saw that beyond the wall around the camp there was a Jewish home and
in its courtyard was a sukkah. Now, if he left his post he could be shot but
he decided that after all the officers left and he was alone, he would climb
the wall and be in the sukkah. As time passed he began to be upset because
the officers were not leaving and the mitzvah is traditionally performed
most perfectly before midnight. But fifteen minutes before midnight everyone
left and he was alone. He stuck a piece of bread in his pocket and jumped
over the wall quickly so no other soldiers could see him, he made kiddush on
the bread (which is permitted if one has no wine) and sat eating in the
sukkah. Then he quickly jumped back over the wall. He was so happy, he told
the rebbe, that he had fulfilled the mitzvah with self-sacrifice. "That's
beautiful," said the rebbe, "but you wouldn't shine so much from that. Tell
me more." Then the soldier admitted that he was so happy at what he had done
that he had danced in the camp the whole night. "Now I understand why you're
shining so much," said the rebbe. (Yehi Or, p.264)