Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“Forget the brakes; fix the horn!”

An Israeli driver takes his car into the shop to have the brakes repaired.
The mechanic tells him, “It’s going to cost 6,000 shekels.”
So the car owner says to the mechanic, “Forget the brakes; fix the horn!”

“Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the
purpose of showing him just how poor some people are. They spent a couple of days on the farm
of a destitute family. On their return home, the father asked, "Son, how was the trip?"
“It was great, Dad.” The son replied.
“Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.
“Oh yeah," said the son.
“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered, "I learned that we don’t allow pets into our fancy house, but they have dogs
and cats they enjoy very much.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported Japanese lanterns in our garden and they have stars at night.
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 have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
After hearing all this, the father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for
showing me how poor we are.”


There is a beautiful story found in the Zohar3 — the central text of Jewish mysticism — which
illustrates this idea. Rabbi Abba, says the Zohar, once sat at the gateway to the town of Lud in
Israel, which is now the location of Ben Gurion Airport.
He saw a traveler sit down on a pile of rocks at the edge of a mountain overlooking a cliff. The
man was exhausted from his journey and immediately fell asleep. Rabbi Abba watched this
scene for a bit when suddenly he saw a deadly snake slither out of the rocks, and make its way
rapidly towards the sleeping man. Before he had time to intervene, a giant lizard jumped out
from the rocks and killed the serpent, saving the sleeping man’s life.
The man awoke, shocked to see a beheaded snake lying in front of him. He quickly gathered his
possessions and rose to continue on his journey. At that very moment the pile of rocks he was
sitting on collapsed and dropped into the ravine below.
Rabbi Abba ran after the man and recounted everything he had witnessed. He asked, "My friend,
tell me, to what do you attribute all these miracles that have just occurred?"
The traveler responded:
“Well, one thing I can tell you. I never go to sleep without forgiving someone who offended me.
When someone caused me pain, I always tried, with all my heart, to resolve whatever animosity
was between us. I turned the hateful situation into an opportunity to do acts of kindness for the
person involved in the misunderstanding.

Prayer and Baseball

Someone once defined a baseball game as a place where 40,000 people who need exercise watch
18 people who don't. Well, maybe, we can define High Holiday service as a place where
hundreds of people who need to improve in prayer watch one person, the chazzan, who doesn't.

Friends, it’s tempting to be spectators at the prayer service, rather than full participants. It’s easy
to just follow the lead of the rabbi and the cantor, to let our minds wander while our mouths say
the words. This prayer reminds us that our devotion needs to involve our whole being, our whole

Linbacker Lawrence Taylor - mind over matter

Lawrence Taylor, the retired linebacker of the New York Giants, was once
asked about playing while he was injured and he responded, “It’s mind over
matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Joke - "dear G-d, never mind; I found one on my own."

A Jewish guy is driving to work one day... he starts looking for a parking space and notices he's gonna be late... there's no parking anywhere.

He looks up at the sky and says to G-d: "dear Lord I promise that if you help me find a parking space i'll start eating only kosher food, rest on Saturday and do all the mitzvas I'm supposed to..." 5 seconds later he finds a parking space... he looks up at the sky again: "dear G-d, never mind; I found one on my own."

Charled Blondinn - the most famous tight rope walkers in history

Charled Blondinn (1824-1897).

Blondin, who was born in 1824 in France, was one of the most famous tight rope walkers in history. He was also known as "The Great Blondin."

Blondin's greatest fame came in June of 1859 when he attempted to become the first person to cross a tightrope stretched over a quarter of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls.

He walked across 160 feet, above falls, several times, each time with a different daring feat: once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet!

At one occasion, a large crowd gathered and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across one dangerous step after another, blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow.

Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?" The crowd enthusiastically shouted, "Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!"

"Okay," said Blondin, "Someone get in the wheelbarrow....."

No one did!

Only months later, in August of 1859, did his manager, Harry Colcord, ride on Blondin's back across the Niagara Falls.

The story of Charles Blondin paints a real life picture of the challenge of faith. The crowd had watched his daring feats. They said they believed, but they would not act on the faith.
“And G-d heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of G-d called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her "What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for G-d has heard the voice of the lad where he is," “baasher hoo sham.” (Genesis 21:17).

What is the meaning of those last three words “where he is?” 

There is a deep message conveyed here. G-d listens to people “where they are.” Often, when a person finds himself in a situation with many distractions and difficulties, he is likely to say: "When my situation improves, then I will be able to do what I really aspire to do, to seek holiness, to study Torah and do mitzvoth, to connect to G-d, but not right now. Now all I can think about are these problems, holiness will have to wait until other things calm down."

But that is not the Jewish approach. Let us recall the words of G-d to Moses at the burning bush, when he tried to approach the burning bush: “Ki hamakom asher atah omed alav admas kodesh hu.” The place upon which you are standing, that is the exact situation in which you find yourself, is a holy place. In whatever distracting and difficult situation you find yourself, there are opportunities for holiness. A relationship with G-d does not depend on you being completely pure and refined. Wherever we are in our life, we can touch the Divine. Wherever you are in life, you can reach out to G-d. You don’t need to move away from your space and be something which you are not. G-d does not want masks; he wants the real you. He wants your truth, your passion, your heart, your struggles, your reality. “Baasher Hoo Sham.” He wants to see what you really look like. Wherever you are and whoever you are, G-d will listen to you.

G-d called to Samuel, and Samuel responded, "Here I am."

And he ran to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you have called me." And Eli said, "I did not call. Go back to sleep." 

In essence, we are given here a blueprint for one of the great challenges and callings in the field of education. Our children hear voices, but we often send them back to sleep, making them believe that the voices were mere imaginary.

Joke - the Boy who didnt speak

There was a boy who hadn't said a word for fifteen years and his parents thought him incapable of speech until one night at dinner when he threw his spoon down in disgust and declared, "Ach! The soup is terrible!" His mother jumped with joy and exclaimed, "Sam, you spoke!!

But, how come you didn't say anything till now?"

To which he blithely answers, "Till now the soup was good!"

What Rabbi Mottel (Mordechai) of Chernobyl saw in Heaven

The great Tzadik, Rabbi Mottel (Mordechai) of Chernobyl (1770-1837) was renowned for his erudition and holiness. He had thousands of followers, many of whom he 'inherited' after the passing of his saintly father Rebbe Nachum. Once, it so happened that this Rabbi Mottel fell sick. He became so critically ill that he went into a coma for four days and was literally hovering between life and death. His Chassidim and followers were in distress. They gathered together, prayed and said Tehillim (Psalms) non-stop for the entire time. G-d heard their prayers and their Rebbe regained consciousness. Several weeks later held a great thanksgiving meal for the kindness G-d showed him. The meal was unusually joyous; replete with song and dance until one of the older Chassidim, who had taken a few L'chaims, mustered up his courage approached the Rebbe and asked him if he would please grace the crowd with a description of what he’d seen in the four days he was “out.”

After a few minutes of pregnant silence, the Rebbe cleared his throat, closed his eyes and began to speak.

"I left my body and felt my soul rising, rising to heaven. I was sure that my time on earth had terminated. But I resisted. I didn't want to die. I cried and asked for mercy but it didn't help. "I was brought before the heavenly court and they were about to decide my fate. So in desperation I screamed that I wanted to see my holy, departed father, Rabbi Nachum. I knew that if he could intercede for me I might have a chance.

"My request was granted! My father was lowered from the high level of heaven where he was, but when we were finally face to face and I was bursting from joy to see him again after all these years … he didn't recognize me! I pleaded and tried to make him remember… but to no avail. He admitted that he had a son but he didn't believe that I was him! He simply didn't recognize me at all. Finally he asked if perhaps I had done some sin after he left this world and that is the reason he didn't know me. And he disappeared.

So for three days, I tried to remember if possibly I had done something wrong but with no success. I again began weeping and praying and, behold, my father re-appeared. He told me that he also had been searching but he came up with nothing. All he could conclude was perhaps it was something I had done very recently; say in the last day or two before my illness that was inaccessible to him. He asked me if I remembered anything unusual.

"Suddenly something came to my mind, but it certainly wasn't a sin. I told him that I remembered that just before my illness a wealthy Jew who had recently become a pauper, came to ask me for a loan of several hundred rubles to get back on his feet. But I had to turn him down because I simply didn't have that type of money. Still, I gave him what I could and tried to comfort him as best as possible.

"'Comfort him?' My father asked, 'What did you say?'

"I said a proverb from the wisest of men, King Solomon. I said:

כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶאֱהַב ה', יוֹכִיחַ...

For the one who G-loves, He chastises… (Proverbs 3:12).        

“‘And what did you mean by that?' My father asked as though he was on to something. ‘What did I mean?’ I replied, not really understanding what he was getting at. "Why, I meant the simple meaning. That he shouldn't worry because sometimes G-d makes people suffer because He loves them. For instance, suffering can sometimes make people more kind, more sensitive, more compassionate, more deep. Sometimes it can clean people of their sins.

"'Aha!' My father replied. 'Now I know why I didn’t recognize you! I never would have said such a thing! And, indeed, here in Heaven we learn that sentence completely differently. Up here we learn it like this:

כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶאֱהַב, ה' יוֹכִיחַ...

“Whoever you love (and we are supposed to love every creature), and you see that he or she is suffering, then you shall chastise G-d.’"

This is what Moses did when he challenged G-d saying, “Why do you make Your people suffer?” (Exodus 5:22). And G-d listened.

“’My son,' my father concluded, 'when it comes to the suffering of others we have to protest! We must try to “reprove” G-d and not justify Him.'”

“And I came back to life.”

Joke -Your Tuchus is apt to become more clever than your head

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?"

Jewish Pride: Shimon Ringel in Death Camp

Of the hundreds of heroic stories told by the Bluzhever Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Spiro, about his harrowing experiences in the Janowska labor camp during World War II, one episode is not well known at all. It is the story of Dr. Shimon Ringel. It is the courageous tale of a valiant man and his fight to preserve the honor, the kavod, of his people.

Arriving at the labor camp on August 26, 1942, Shimon, a young man in his 30s, carried with him a spirit of defiance and an inner strength. He was shocked at how the Jews all followed the orders of their German superiors; he desperately tried to convince the other inmates that eventually all of them would be killed, every last one. So why follow the Germans' orders and work for their cause? Why not spread the word to the thousands of other inmates? But a number of factors prevented him from doing this.

First of all, it was difficult to ever speak to a large number of people. The Nazis watched their every move carefully, ensuring that no one spoke to anyone else unless it was for a purpose. After work it was nearly impossible to find someone who had either the physical strength or the will to converse. They were shattered both in body and spirit. The only thing they wanted was to rest their bruised and weary bodies. Who had time or interest to speak about hope and pride? They were by and large walking skeletons, living out their days until the time came to die. And when it would, they would gladly leave this nightmarish existence.

So the voices of the Shimon Ringels had no chance of being heard. But Shimon would speak to the Bluzhever Rebbe. In him he found someone who would listen and at least try to share in his hope.

The labor camp was a scene of subhuman conditions ― appalling sanitation, little food, and constant harassment and beatings. Daily, they were forced to endure lineups where the SS guards would degrade and humiliate them.

"Which nation are the biggest liars and cheaters?" the SS guards would call out in glee, almost suppressing a snide smirk as they waited anxiously for the answer. "We the Jews are!" would be the cry of the degraded prisoners. Anyone daring not to scream out this answer would suffer by being chosen to stand in the middle of the courtyard and be beaten ― beaten until he died ― while his fellow Jews watched.

But Shimon could not bear to watch this horrible sight. He could no longer tolerate these barbarians mocking God and His holy nation. It is one thing to beat someone physically, but to humiliate the soul of a Jew, that was just too much. The humiliation and shame hurt so badly that Shimon decided to do something about it.

One of the daily rituals in the camp was the trip the inmates would take to the bathhouses. Although they was given the opportunity to bathe themselves, it was on a strict schedule. They had, to undress, bathe and redress all within a period of 5 minutes. Anyone not keeping to the schedule would be killed instantly. And tragically, often more blood would flow from those bathhouses, than water.

Afterward, again, the humiliating ceremony would begin. "Who's the filthiest nation on earth?" the Nazi guard would call out. "It is we the Jews who are infested with lice and filth."

"And why are you no longer dirty?"

"Because the kind and benevolent commandant has allowed us to cleanse ourselves."

The scene was sickening and shameful. But woe to the individual who dared to defy the sadistic guard. And for the longest time no one dared to do so. Until Shimon Ringel.

Shimon armed himself with a small dose of cyanide and one middle-sized rock. As the routine was about to begin, he turned to the Bluzhever Rebbe with tears in his eyes and he begged, "Please forgive me, Rebbe. I know that after what I am going to do, you will suffer together with the rest of the inmates. But I can no longer tolerate the shame they are causing to God and the Jewish people. I don't know if you will survive but promise me that if you do, you will tell this story to let people know that someone did not allow them to shame God's people."

The Rebbe tried to convince Shimon not to do it. But it was too late. The routine began. "Who is the filthiest nation on earth?"

Shimon refused to answer, while the rest of them struggled to proclaim that they were the filthiest nation, when they knew that the exact opposite was true. It did not take long for the Nazi guards to notice that Shimon was not responding to the questions in the same manner as everyone else.

"Why are you not answering, Jew?"

This time it was the Commandant Kolinko who spoke with a mixture of anger and confusion. "How dare you not answer the way you have been taught?" The commandant was visibly shaken and surprised that this Jew was so defiant!

"Because it is not true. The Jewish people are not filthy and we are not a lowly nation. It is you who should be ashamed of yourselves, you dirty dog. You kill innocent women and children. It is you who should be embarrassed for who you are."

And as soon as Shimon finished his diatribe, the commandant, shocked by his impudence, approached him and stepped right up to his face. Suddenly Shimon spit at him and smashed the rock he had hidden against the commandant's head.

Immediately chaos ensued. The SS guards pounced on Shimon and beat him mercilessly as the commandant bled profusely. But Shimon did not feel it at all. He was now in a place where no one could hurt him.

Astonishingly, somehow, someway, the matter was swept aside. One of those who survived was the Bluzhever Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Spira, who retold this story.

No Shame

Now, here was a Jew who knew he would not survive, yet he would not tolerate the spectacle of Jews calling themselves “filthy.”

We, thank G-d, are given the freedom to speak up against all the voices which never cease to defame and spread lies about the Jewish people and their homeland, the Land of Israel.

You know the story of the anti-Semite who knocks down the Jew in the street. The Jew gives him a coin and says that today is a holiday, a Yom Tov, where we give money to people who hit us and directs him to the wealthy Jew, who will give him big money. The anti-Semite goes to the man’s house and when the Jew comes to the door, the anti-Semite gives him a solid Zetz. The wealthy Jew calls his servants who beat the living daylights out of this anti-Semite. He goes away bruised and muttering, “These Jews, they don't even keep their own holidays.”

We ought never to be ashamed. We must speak up, with confidence, with dignity, with unwavering passion and strength. We cannot afford in times of freedom to suffer from an inferiority complex.

Don’t Stop Praying

Don’t Stop

In the portion of Vaeschanan, Moses prays to enter into the Land. The word Vaeschanan is the numerology of 515, indicating that Moses prayed 515 prayers to nullify the Divine decree against his entry into the Holy Land. Finally, G-d told him: Enough! Do not pray any more. Why did G-d not want him to pray any longer?

Says the Munkatcher Rebbe (in his commentary Chaim Vesholom), because   G-d knew, that with one more prayer, Moses would have broken the decree! So G-d told him, stop praying.

And the Munkathcer concludes: Sometimes Jews get tired of praying for Moshiach and redemption. They should learn from this that it is a mistaken approach. The power and potency of prayer is unbelievable.

Story: The Grandmother who called at her own Shiva

Heard from Rabbi Shmuel Hendel in Kfar Chabad, told to him by Rabbi EliyahuSegal of Rishon L'Tzion.

An elderly lady living in a nursing home in New York passed away. Her children, who always visited her and took care of her, did their duty and did a proper Jewish Tahara and burial.

On the 5th day of sitting shiva, the phone rang and the daughter sitting shiva answered the phone. On the other end of the phone was her mother, whom she just buried. The daughter, in shock, immediately fainted.

The phone rang again and it was her mother again, complaining that no one came to visit her that week. The family then rushed to the nursing home and it turned out there was a mix-up at the nursing home and it was her roommate that passed away and not their mother. This means that the wrong family buried the person… imagine hoe everybody felt about this crazy mistake. So now the nursing home had the grim job of informing the children of the other lady that their mother died 5 days ago. The nursing home called and was trying to break it to these children slowly, but before they could even tell the children what happened, the children callously answered, “If this call has anything to do with our mother, we are not interested.”

The children said, “All day long our mother wastes her time and just prays and prays and says Psalms.” The children then added, “And the one thing she prays for is that when she dies she should have a proper Jewish burial. But,” the children cruelly said, “We will outsmart her and when she dies we will spite her and make sure she will not have a proper Jewish burial! We don’t believe in all these religious myths. Cremation is far cheaper and more appropriate.”

The nursing home then explained to them it was too late as she already received her proper Jewish burial!

Look at the power of prayer and to the extent G-d will turn the world around to answer a prayer. Here this pious lady only prayed for one thing, a proper burial. Knowing it was almost impossible, due to her children’s apathy and selfishness, yet she didn’t give up. So G-d orchestrated this whole mix-up to respond to the prayers of this woman.

A man in a hot air balloon & a Rabbi

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a man below.

He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The man below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be a rabbi," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the man, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but completely irrelevant…”

Two Donkeys - Salt & Sponges

The following allegory was shared by the Ben Eish Chai, Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad (died 1900).

There were once two donkeys. One was carrying a load of salt. The salt was very heavy and the donkey struggled mightily to bear his burden. The other donkey was carrying sponges. He didn’t even feel his load and walked gleefully on the trail as if there was nothing on his back, whatsoever.

Eventually they came to a stream. When the donkey, who was carrying the salt, entered the water, the salt began to melt. After a few minutes the salt totally dissolved. By the time he emerged from the stream, he was carrying empty sacks on his back. Relieved from his burden, he began to walk with happiness and ease.

Whereas, when the second donkey entered the stream, water rushed into the packs and flooded the sponges, creating a very heavy load for the donkey. Indeed, the weight was more than he could bear and the donkey’s life was endangered as he struggled to keep his head above the water.

Thus, the heavy load of salt served to benefit the first donkey because after he entered the water, his load was lifted, and he found ease and tranquility. Whereas when the second donkey entered the water the light sponge turned into an unbearable burden that nearly cost him his life.

Fearing G-d

And so Lord our G-d, instill fear of You upon all that You have made, and dread of You upon all that You have created; all your creatures should fear you, and all creations should prostrate themselves to You… —High Holiday Amidah.

A strange prayer, would you not say? We are told all day that fear is our greatest enemy. One of the great mantras of Eleanor Roosevelt was, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People spend tens of thousands of dollars to go to therapy and rid themselves of their fears.we all come to shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Mature, intelligent and successful people. And what do we pray for? “And so instill fear of You upon all that You have made, and dread of You upon all that You have created.” Just yesterday we paid the therapist $245 to get rid of fear, and today we are asking G-d to instill fear in us? Is this normal? Are we trying to impose neurosis on ourselves?

The answer is both simple and profound. Generally, fear could be very destructive. Fear often paralyzes people; it keeps them stuck in a quagmire. But there is one form of fear that is both necessary and very positive: fear of G-d.

A human being is capable of falling very low. And we must know that G-d is concerned with our behavior each moment and craves us to behave morally and kindly. G-d loves us and empowers us to live great and extraordinary lives, and He anticipates that we make the right choices every moment of our lives. Every person needs to ask himself or herself one question before they do anything: What does G-d think about this? Does He approve? If the answer is yes, go right ahead. If the answer is not, you need to reconsider. This is the right way to live.

And if you truly fear G-d, you are more likely to be fearless in other areas of life. The less you fear G-d, the more you will fear other things in your life. You will fear people, you will fear public opinion, you will fear peer pressure, you will fear yourself, you will fear your mother in law, you will fear the mouse in the house, you will fear what this one says or that one thinks.

The more you fear G-d, the less you will fear everything else. Because if you are truly G-d-conscious, you answer only to one authority. You are not for sale. The sole barometer of your decisions in life is what G-d thinks of them.

So when the Baal Shem Tov was a boy of five he lost both of his parents. He was orphaned from both his father and mother. The last words spoken to him by his father before his passing were: "Yisrolik, fear nothing but G-d alone."

Fear of G-d is one fear modern psychology would do well not throwing out the window.

Story/Joke Quaterback - Sid Luckman & His Shtetel Minded Father

You know the story about Sid Luckman. Sid was one of the best Football Quarter Back players ever. Born in Brooklyn, he became a 6-time All-Pro Football QB. He led the Chicago Bears to 4 NFL titles and is shrined in the Football Hall of Fame.

His parents were immigrants, and they knew nothing about football. They came from the Shtetl.

And so, when he was about to play in his first professional game, he thought that it would be only appropriate to invite his parents to watch him play football and get a little bit of “nachas.”

He didn’t want them to be placed up in the stands somewhere, where they would be completely lost. So he had them sit on the bench with the players. In the middle of the game, Luckman drops back, and a line backer comes through the line, and starts to chase him.

Sid is fast. He scrambles with that ball; he’s running down the sideline with all his energy and might, and a couple of huge 6-foot tall, muscular, powerful fellows are running after him...

He runs right in front of his parents. It looks like he is running for his life. At which point, his father yells out in great fear:

“Sid, give them the ball, I’ll buy you another one...“



When G-d first revealed Himself to Moses from the Burning Bush, He said to him, “Remove your shoes from your feet.” With this command, G-d impressed an important point on Moses.

That point was that when you walk down the road in shoes, you stroll easily. The shoes that you wear protect you from feeling the little stones and the sharp pebbles on the road.

However, when you walk down the road barefoot, you feel every little stone and every sharp pebble that you step on.

As Moses was being appointed to lead Israel, he was commanded to remove his shoes. This hinted to the fact that he had to walk through life “barefoot”, so that he could feel and understand every little pain and every little sorrow which was the lot of his people.

The true Jewish leader cannot isolate himself from the plight of his people. He cannot put on the figurative shoes of indifference, caring for himself, at the cost of feeling the distress of his flock.

Similarly, each of us should take off the shoes of apathy, and be sensitive to the even the smallest opportunities for kindness. We never know which minor gestures on our part could make a difference in people’s lives.

Parable - Throwing 17,000 shekels off the roof

. Lesson from the Economic Crisis

“From a narrow place I call out to you, oh G-d; answer me from an expansive place.” – The first of seven verses resided before the blowing of the shofar.

We are experiencing an economic crisis. Some of us have endured difficult times. We all hope and pray that this year brings all of us much success and abundant prosperity. Yet we ought not to allow the financial challenges of these past years to slip away without teaching us one important lesson about life.

I will illustrate it with a story:

About ten years ago a rich Israeli businessman who we will call Jerry was on the top of the world. He was a multi-millionaire, toured the globe enjoying the best hotels, restaurants, cars and anything that money could buy. He was a self-made-man who loved his creator (i.e. himself). He was arrogant, cold, tough, and boatful. But a number of years ago, like many others, he made some big investment mistakes, and began to lose his fortune. In just months every penny he had saved and slaved for was gone and he was a pauper. And after he liquidated all his assets and even sold his house to pay his debts he still owed 17,000 shekels to the Israeli Revenue Service.

He asked an old friend for a loan. He went up to his friend’s office at the 49th floor of the Azrieli center in Tel Aviv.  His friend gave him 17,000 shekel and the man left the office.

With nothing better to do he decided to walk around and have a look. After a few minutes of strolling he noticed a set of stairs leading up to a large metal door, which he ascended and opened the door. A cold autumn wind blew into his face. It was the door leading to the roof, 'why not', he thought to himself as he went out.

Ah it was beautiful! From here he could see far into the distance; the Judean hills in one direction, the wide, vast Mediterranean sea on the other. He just stood there, thinking and trying to enjoy the weather when suddenly a loud thud behind him broke his thoughts; a quick glance revealed that the wind slammed the door shut. He decided it was time to go back.

He went to the door and tried to open it but it seemed to be locked. He tried peering from all sorts of angles to figure out the latch but he couldn't. So he began to pound on the door and when that didn't work, to kick at it. For sure someone would hear.

But no one did. The wind was getting stronger and colder now and he wasn't really dressed for this. He looked around for some object to hit the door with, to attract attention and get out but there was none. He still had a good hour before dark; people were probably still in their offices so he pounded, kicked and yelled but there was no response.

When he took out his black berry he discovered that the battery was dead. Totally dead! Of all times for this to happen!

But he didn't lose his composure. He had to work fast. He went to the edge of the building, peered over the small protective fence and began waiving his arms and yelling to the people far below which, after just five minutes, he realized was totally futile. There was no way that anyone would notice him from 49 floors below. But he had to remain calm. It was his only chance. Soon it would be dark and really cold. And there was nowhere to get protection from the wind, which was getting colder by the minute.

Suddenly he had an idea. The money! He had 17,000 shekels in his pocket. For sure if he threw a 200 shekel note down people would look up to see where it was coming from… and see him.

He pulled out a stack of bills, removed one, looked over the fence and threw it. He watched as it floated crazily in the wind and finally, after several minutes, landed on the other side of the street, someone stopped, bent down, picked it up and continued walking.

This time he took out five bills, 1,000 altogether and let them drop… but it was the same thing. No one noticed them until they hit the ground, then they picked them up, looked around for more and kept going.

He knew what he had to do! It was his only chance! He took all the money from his pocket, tore the band that held it neatly in a pack and with a yell, threw it below as hard as he could. With his last optimism he gazed as it scattered far below him. He removed his shirt and began waving it frantically for someone to notice. But he couldn't believe his eyes; not only did no one look up or hear his cries for help; they were all arguing down there about who saw which bill first!

He looked around on the roof, the sun was setting, it was still light enough to see, but he saw nothing……. only the sky.

His eyes filled with tears, suddenly he felt small, he needed help; he was sure that G-d would help him. The sky said so. A second ago he didn't even believe there was such a thing but now it was obvious… he wasn't alone. He yelled out, "HaShem! HaShem! (G-d)…. help! Help me!"

Suddenly his eye caught a medium sized sack of small pebbles. Why didn't he see it before? But there it was! He dragged it to the fence, took a handful, said a prayer, threw it over the side and began waving his arms and looking down again.

Sure enough, this time it worked! People began cursing; looking up pointing and screaming at him. Probably all of them called the police because in just moments the door burst open, police with guns drawn stormed through, put handcuffs on him and took him to the station. He was saved!

It took some serious explaining. He was lucky that no one was really hurt from his pebbles and, of course, he lost the 17,000 shekel and still owed the taxes. But after a few days they accepted his story and let him out.

At that moment he discovered a deep lesson: the people on the street, were just like him. All the time money was raining down the people never looked up… they looked only down, for more money. But as soon as they started feeling the pebbles hurting them they looked up to see where they were coming from.

How true of life. When we have everything we need, we sometimes take it for granted and we never look up. We can become insensitive to the plight of others; we feel we don’t need anybody. We are on top of the world. Only when we feel the “pebbles” falling on us, does it make us look up… look up beyond ourselves… see that there is something that transcends our egos, there is a higher source, to whom we are responsible.

This is the meaning of the above verse: We tend to call out to G-d “min hamatzar,” from a narrow place. Yet we ask of Him to answer us with expansiveness, with prosperity. Once we have learnt the lesson, let us all be blessed with tremendous wealth, so we can utilize the Divine gift to help people.

To Die as a Jew

At the D Day Museum in New Orleans there was a traveling exhibit about
Jewish soldiers who fought in WWII.

At the exhibit there was a video with Jewish soldiers discussing their
experiences as they were getting ready to go over to the European theater.
One of the people interviewed was a Mr. Bentley Kassal and he said something
amazing that I include at the end of this email. I found this was very

By the way if you go to Wikipedia you will see that Bentley was a NY state
judge and a so called 'secular' Jew who was very progressive and left
leaning. I think this makes it even more special.


Paraphrasing from the video:


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Matchmaker in the Sky

It is said that God is the greatest matchmaker in the world and his first

successful "shidduch" or match, Adam and Eve, were the best match in human
In heaven, Adam and Eve ask the Almighty why this is so.
"Well," God replied, "Adam, you didn't have to hear about all of the men
Even could have married, and Eve, you didn't have to hear about how well
Adam's mother cooked."

Faithful Friends

One sunny Sabbath afternoon Shlomo and Moishe, two old friends, meet for the

first time in a few years. After exchanging the usual pleasantries Shlomo
says, "Moishe, people are telling me you don't go to synagogue anymore. Can
it be true? You no longer believe in God?"
Moishe looks uncomfortable and quickly changes the subject.
The next afternoon, they meet on the bench again and Shlomo persists. "You
must tell me Moishe. You don't believe in God anymore?
Moishe replies, "Here's a straight answer to your straight question: no I
Shlomo asks, "So why didn't you tell me yesterday?"
Moishe shocked to the point of disgust, exclaims, "On Shabbos?! God forbid!"

The physicist

A physicist is giving a lecture at a Jewish seniors residence and explaining

that in 4 and 1/2 billion years the sun will exhaust itself of fuel and burn
out and all life at we know it in the solar system will end.
Upset, Saul Epstein yells out, "Is there anything we can do professor? Can
we form any congressional committees, or donate money for research?"
The physicist responds, "Sir, why are you so upset? This won't happen for 4
and a half billion years?"
"Oh, thank God," says Mr. Epstein. "I thought you said it would happen in 4
and a half million years."

Marital research

Isaac has been quietly perusing a document for some time and his wife Rose

is getting curious. So she asks him, "Nu, so what are you reading, Isaac?"
"Our ketubah," he replies.
"But you've been staring at it now for nearly an hour," she says.
"I know," Isaac replies. "I'm looking for something."
"So what are you looking for, Isaac?" asks Rose.
"An expiry date," he replies.

The Joys of Fatherhood

Sam picked up his wife Becky and their new baby from hospital and brought

them home. It was not long before Becky suggested that Sam try his hand at
changing a diaper.
"I'm busy," he said. "I promise I'll do the next one."
The next time soon came around so Becky asked him again.
Sam looked at Becky and said, innocently, "I didn't mean the next diaper, I
meant the next baby."

The Air Up There

Sadie has died and today is her funeral. Her husband Nathan and many of

their family and friends are standing round the grave as Sadie's coffin is
lowered into the ground. Then, as is the custom, many of the mourners pick
up some shovels and help to fill the open grave with earth.
But on their way back to the prayer hall, the sky suddenly darkens, rain
starts to fall, flashes of lightening fill the sky and loud thunder rings
Nathan turns to his rabbi and says, "Well rabbi, she's arrived alright."
Under Pressure
submitted by: Miriam Horowitz
An old man once entered an insurance office and asked to take out a life
insurance. "We're sorry," he was told, "We don't give life insurances to
anyone over 80 years old".
"That's not fair," the man protested, "you just gave one to my father last
"Your father?" was the incredulous reply, "we must check that out. What was
his name?" They investigated the matter and sure enough, it appeared that
they had, indeed, given this old man's father a life insurance.
"Well," said the administrator, "If we gave your father an insurance policy,
it is only fair that we give you one as well. We'll have to set up a date
for you to come by and sign the policy. Is next Tuesday good for you?"
"No", said the old man, "I can't come next Tuesday, my grandfather is
getting married."
"Your grandfather?!?"
"Yes. But actually, he doesn't really want to get married but his parents
are putting pressure on him"!

God's Children

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.

And the first thing he said was "DON'T!"
"Don't what?" Adam replied.
"Don't eat the forbidden fruit." God said.
"Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit?
"Hey Eve...we have forbidden fruit!"
"No Way!"
"Yes way!"
"Do NOT eat the fruit! " said God.
"Because I am your Father and I said so! " God replied, wondering why He
hadn't stopped creation after making the elephants.
A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was
"Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit?" God asked.
"Uh huh," Adam replied.
"Then why did you?" asked the Father.
"I don't know," said Eve.
"She started it!" Adam said.
"Did not!"
"Did too!"
Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve
should have children of their own. Thus the pattern was set and it has never
Doctor Myers
Issy is not well and goes to see Doctor Myers. After examining him, Doctor
Myers says, "Well, I can help you, but it will require many sessions."
"OK," says Issy, "how much is this going to cost me?"
"The 12 sessions plus drugs will cost you $1000," replies Doctor Myers.
"Oy," says Issy, "I’m not a wealthy man, Doctor. Couldn’t you make it less?"
"Well … I could do it for $850," replies Doctor Myers.
"It’s still more than I can afford, Doctor," says Issy. "I’ve got 3 children
and a wife to support."
"OK," says Doctor Myers, "how about $700?"
"It’s still too high, Doctor," says Issy. "My business is doing terrible and
my wife has told her mother that she can live with us."
"Alright already," says Doctor Myers, "I’ll do it for $600 and not a penny
"Thanks doctor, I can do that," says Issy.
"Good," says Doctor Myers, "but tell me – why did you come to me to seek
treatment when you know I’m the most expensive doctor in this area?"
"Well," replies Issy, "you’ve got a marvellous reputation and when it comes
to my health, money is no object!"

In the Name of Love

It's Morty and Rivkah's 50th wedding anniversary and to celebrate, their son
Aaron invites the close family to a Golden Wedding dinner at his house.
During the evening, Aaron gets very emotional every time he hears his dad
call his mom by such endearing terms as ‘darling', ‘petal', and
‘sweetheart'. It's clear to Aaron that his parents are still very much in
While Rivkah is out the room, Aaron goes over to his father, kisses him and
quietly says, "Dad, I'm so pleased for you both. I think it's fantastic that
after 50 years you're still calling mom by those loving pet names."
But Morty, looking very embarrassed, says, "Things are not always what they
seem to be, son. I must tell you the truth - I forgot your mother's name
about five years ago."

The teeth.

One night, Moshe and Sadie, both in their eighties, go to Blooms Restaurant.
Moshe orders just one plate of salt beef, latkes and new green cucumbers.
Then, when it arrives, he tucks into his favourite food. Sadie just sits
there watching him enjoy himself.
Shlomo, sitting at a table nearby, notices that Sadie hasn’t got a meal. He
then gets quite upset when, with plenty of food still left on his plate,
Moshe puts down his knife and fork, removes his napkin and puts it on the
“How mean,” thought Shlomo, “the elderly lady is just sitting there without
any food. Maybe they can’t afford two meals?”
So Shlomo goes over to Sadie and says, “I hope you won’t be offended but I
see you don’t have anything to eat. Could I please treat you to a meal? It
would really make me happy if you said yes.”
Sadie replies, “That’s very kind of you but there is no need to worry about
me. My husband Moshe and I share everything 50/50 and now that he’s eaten
his half, it will soon be my turn.”
“So what are you waiting for?” asks Shlomo.


It was lunchtime at the Jewish nursery school and all the children were

lined up by the teachers. Then, as usual, they were led into the canteen.
Little Moshe quickly noticed that at one end of the dining table was a large
pile of apples with the message, "Take ONLY ONE apple each, God is
watching."  At the other end he noticed was a large pile of kosher chocolate
chip cookies.
Moshe then whispered to his friend Sarah, "We can take all the cookies we
want. God is watching the apples."

White hair

One morning, as little Hannah was sitting at the kitchen sink watching her
mother wash and dry the breakfast plates, she noticed that her mother had
several strands of white hair mixed in with her dark hair.
Hannah looked at her mother and said, "Why have you got some white hairs,
Her mother replied, "Well darling, every time a daughter does something bad
to make her mother cry or unhappy, one of her mother’s hairs turns white."
Hannah thought about this information for a few moments then said, "Mummy,
so how come all of grandma's hairs are white?"

Sir Benjy takes a holiday

Benjy had done very well in business. He was a multi-millionaire and had

been knighted by the Queen for his endeavours. One day, after completing yet
another very successful business deal, he decided on the spur-of-the-moment
to take his wife Sadie to Israel. He asked his secretary Carol to make the
Carol rang the Tel Aviv Dan hotel and asked to speak to the manager.
“I am happy to inform you that Sir Benjy and his wife have chosen to stay at
the Dan next week. But as they are very wealthy and require total privacy,
they would need to book the entire hotel for their stay. Money is not a
problem. Can you set this up?”

The manager didn’t hesitate. “Yes, I can move all guests to a sister hotel.”

Carol then asked, “Is there a private beach?”
“What colour is the sand?” asked Carol.
“Silver,” came the reply.
“Well that will be a problem as Sir Benjy always insists on golden sand.”
“OK. I can get round it,” said the manager. “There’s a quarry nearby and I
will arrange for golden sand to be laid on the beach.”
“And finally,” said Carol, “Sir Benjy prefers a blue sky without a cloud in
it. Is the weather going to be perfect next week?”
“No problem,” said the manager, “I will get the Israeli Air Force to seed
the clouds and so disperse them.”
The following week, there was Benjy and Sadie sunbathing on the wide expanse
of the private beach of the Dan hotel. Benjy looked all around him and said,
“Sadie, just look how beautiful everything is. We have privacy, there is not
a sound coming from the hotel, the sand is beautifully clean and golden and
the sky is so blue without a cloud in sight.  Sadie, with all of this, who
needs money?”
Israel's economy is in a bad way, inflation is getting higher and immigrants
are flooding in from all over the world. Problems, problems, problems, but
what should they do? So the Knesset holds a special session to come up with
a solution.
After several hours of talk without progress one member, Yitzhak, stands up
and says "Quiet everyone, I've got it, I've got the solution to all our
problems. We'll declare war on the United States."
Everyone starts shouting at once. "You're nuts! That's crazy!"
"Hear me out!" says Yitzhak. "We declare war. We lose. The United States
does what she always does when she defeats a country. She rebuilds
everything; our highways, airports, shipping ports, schools, hospitals,
factories, and loans us money, and sends us food aid. Our problems would be
"Sure," says Benny, another minister, "that's if we lose. But what if we

Business versus pleasure

Issy owned a small deli in Hendon. One day, a tax inspector knocked on his

door and questioned him about his recent tax return. Issy had reported a net
profit of £50,000 for the year and he wanted to know all about it.
"It’s like this," said Issy. "I work like a maniac all year round and all of
my family help me out whenever they can. My deli is closed only five times a
year. That’s how I made £50,000."
"It's not your income that bothers us," said the taxman. "It's the business
travel deductions of £80,000 that worries us. You entered on the tax return
that you and your wife made fifteen business trips to Israel."
"Oh," said Issy, smiling. "I forgot to tell you that we also deliver."