To Build a Succah of Peace

Tam knew it was hard for the poor among the Jewish community found it hard to gather the materials needed to build   the walls of their succahs and it was always a problem. So every year as the month of Elul would come to a close, he would speak to his friend Chacham and they would both set out to help the poor. Chacham would have lulavim and esrogim for the poor while Tam would have a supply of boards and lumber for succahs.

One year, on the very eve of   Succos, the town water carrier with his bent back and pain wracked body, made his way up to the door of Tam’s house. In a voice as broken with shame, the poor water carrier asked, “Could I please maybe get just a few planks for my succah?” Tam went and looked, but there were none left.

Tam watched from his window and he saw the poor ragged water carrier trudge from house to house, still in search of a few boards. He his heart was so broken that he burst into tears.


“Ribbono shel Olam, Master of the Universe!” he cried. “Just look how Your Children cherish the mitzvah of living in a succah! See with what self-sacrifice they are determined to fulfill it! It’s raining outside. The roads are full of mud and mire. Yet there he tramps, that ragged bent water carrier wearing torn shoes –   looking for boards for a succah! Look down, then, Master of the Universe, from Your holy dwelling-place in heavens. Bless Your People, Ufros Aleinu Succas Shlomecha – and spread out over them Your Succah of peace.

Tam then went into his study a took an old bookcase apart and handed the boards to one of his students telling him that he should run after the water carrier, and he should help him to build his succah.

That night there was whispering around the table in the candlelit succah and students waiting for Tam to burst out in song or a lesson. Tam came into his succah, smiled at his students, and sat down. He began,

Lulav Story Tour

“Succos’s is a truly blessed time. It is time to realize the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He and the true gifts that he is given to the whole world. Every day we say in the Hashkiveinu prayer, “Cause us, O L-rd our G-d, to lie down in peace, and raise us up, O our King, to life. – Ufros Aleinu Succas Shlomecha – and   Spread over us the succah the of Your peace.”  We should become intensely aware that we are spinning with our words and faith a protective covering of warmth and love around ourselves as a means of protecting our souls from the world around us.”

“In Hebrew the word succas or shelter, also refers to a succah (a temporary structure that we construct for the holiday). We build the succah, eat and sleep in it as a reminder of how the world is ever changing and many conditions are temporary. The succah reminds us of the importance of faith. In other words, almost everything in life is temporary. We remember that our ancestors traveled in the desert for 40 years and then when they came to the holy land and would harvest their crops, they lived in succahs, they were not made to be permanent but very portable.”

“A shelter of peace is created in many ways through a safe home, loving friends, and a connected community. The root of the Hebrew word “shalom” refers to wholeness or completeness; once you have wholeness, peace is possible. We ask that the master of the universe bless us with peace, but we forget that peace is a proactive process. We must work every day that we can attain wholeness by bringing spirituality and holiness to our family, community and the world at large. Each and every one of us must begin the process of constructing a Succas Shlomecha (shelter of peace) within ourselves before we can begin the holy work of creating sense of shalom (peace) for others.”

Tam closed his eyes and began to hum a melody that touched each and every person in the succah that night and they seem to be aglow that no one could explain. When Tam opened his eyes, he smiled and said,

“May we all be messengers of our merciful father in heaven and create ways to ‘Ufros Aleinu Succas Shlomecha – spread over us Your shelter of peace’.

 May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Horses and Rosh haShanah

On Rosh Hashanah we are very aware that the Book of Life is opened and that it is a time of justice, mercy and faith. I was recently at a ceremony at a farm and was struck by the beauty and majesty of the horses when I remembered a story about the inter-relationship of man and horse that taught a very important lesson.

Torah graphic1b

At first G-d thought to create the world through the quality of judgment (din), but realizing that the world could not endure at this level. G-d added on the quality of compassion (rachamim).

—Midrash Bereishis Raba 12:15

One Friday morning a group of students set out to spend the Sabbath with their teacher, a holy rabbi. Dovid, whose deep love for animals earned him a reputation as a gifted horse whisperer, was among this group of students. After encountering several obstacles and delays on their journey, the group arrived just as the sun was about to set Friday afternoon. Fearing they would be late for Sabbath prayers and miss the holy rabbi’s teachings, the group hastily abandoned their horse and carriage and ran off to the synagogue everyone that is, except Dovid. When the holy rabbi realized that Dovid was missing, he sent the some of the students to look for him. Where did they find him? In the barn, feeding and brushing the horses. When they asked him what he was doing there, he responded that all the others had run off without thinking to feed and water the horses, who were weary from the demanding journey, and so he had stayed behind to do just that.

 Dovid was a holy soul in the truest way, a lover of the Divine, and his love for G-d was expressed through his deep compassion for all creatures and all living things. It was absolutely clear to Dovid that by observing the mitzvah of tzaar ba’alei chaim, the commandment to prevent the suffering of animals, he would obtain more closeness to G-d than by seeking spiritual satisfaction in the synagogue. Dovid understood that it is in the expression of compassion, the love and care we extend to all living things that we find the Divine presence; for ultimately compassion, or rachamim, as it is called in Hebrew, is G-d’s very essence.

Jewish mysticism teaches that we come close to G-d only when we “walk in G-d’s ways” – that is, when we embody the divine quality of compassion. In the following, the thirteen attributes of Divine mercy revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai form the template for the practice of compassion:

“Walking in all His ways. (Deuteronomy 5:22). What are the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He?  “A G-d compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6).

This means that just as G-d is gracious and compassionate, we too must be gracious and compassionate. . . Just as G-d gives freely to all, we too must give freely to all. Just as G-d is loving, we too must be loving.

Spiritual development, according to the teachings of the rabbis, is measured by how much compassion and mercy we show to one another everyday.

Rosh Hashanah Greeting

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a sweet year and blessings

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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A Holy Woman

There once was merchant who is very wealthy in many ways. He had a wife whose natural beauty shone bright every day. The rabbis of old wrote about such women when they said “The noblest of all ornaments is modesty. (Rokeach, 13th cent.)”

The merchant traveled all over the world and trusted his wife without question. She wisely conducted his business at home while he traded in faraway lands.

Jewish Stories

The wealthy merchant was aboard a ship which carried his wares, when suddenly the sky grew dark and the sea became violent as a storm struck and huge waves pounded the ship. Everyone on board was afraid that the ship would sink in the storm. Merchants, travelers and sailors went to different places on the ship to pray that they be saved from life-threatening storm. The wealthy merchant prayed to the Holy One, blessed be He that in the merit of his wife’s wisdom, modesty and holiness that he be allowed to return to his loving wife and home. A stranger stood nearby and was amazed to hear the merchant praying and mentioning the merits of his wife, and commented, “women are easily swayed and most are untrue”. The wealthy merchant answered, “A woman of valor who can find? For her value is far above that of rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). The stranger countered, “Beauty has beguiled you, and passion has perverted your heart” (Susanna 56). The wealthy merchant laughed and replied, “you do not know my wife. It is as it was written so long ago ‘The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain in fortune.’ (Proverbs 31:11) It is because of my good wife that I am a successful merchant.” The stranger answered with a sneer, “I shall go and seduce her. What sign do you require of me?” The husband answered that she wore a fine ring on her hand, and if he brought it, then the husband would know that he had indeed seduced her. They risked all their wares on this bet.

The stranger went to seduce the wife of the wealthy merchant and could not even come near her because he failed to understand that “nothing is more precious to the Holy One then modesty” (Pesikta Rabbasi ch. 45). He returned several times but she paid him no attention. At length he bribed her maidservant to steal her ring from her, and then took the ring to the wealthy merchant. He gleefully took all the wares of the wealthy merchant as was agreed according to their bet.

The wealthy merchant returned home empty-handed. When the woman heard that her husband had returned, she prepared herself and put on a fine dress and happily went out to meet him, with all their long-established words of love and affection. Her husband did not even embrace her, but turned away from her and sent her away from him on the ship which had brought him across the sea.

He disguised himself, changed his manner of speech and behaved as a stranger so that she should not recognize him, and acted as the ship’s captain. The woman spent several days on board ship without food and drink, and begged the captain to give her some food. “Kiss me and I shall give you whatever you wish,” said he, but she refused .

Jewish Stories

The woman lived on dried bread crusts and water and when land was spotted from the ship, she begged to be let go.

The ship came to land. The woman went ashore and searched for food and found two trees. Being hungry, she reached up and took the fruit of one of the trees and began to eat. Her hand became leprous and she began to cry. She then went to the other tree and ate a fruit from that tree the leprosy was miraculously healed. She went and filled her bag with fruits from both of the trees and began to walk in the hopes of finding a town.

After walking for three days, she came to a large city where everyone seemed to be sad. She asked a woman she saw why everyone was so upset. “The king has been stricken with a terrible disease and if a cure is not found soon he will surely die. The woman disguised herself as a man and went to the royal palace. She told the guards by the gate that she was a doctor and that she might be able to cure the king of his disease. She was let into the king’s chamber and examined the king and saw that he had leprosy on his hands and face. She called to a servant and told them to boil some water and bring it to her quickly. She pulled from her bag one of the wonderful fruits that still had some leaves attached to it, she crumbled the leaves into the hot water and cut the fruit into pieces. She told the king to eat fruit and to drink the tea and then they waited. In an hour, the king’s face began to clear and in two hours leprosy had left his body. The king was very happy and rewarded her with many riches.

Woman was endowed with a special intelligence (Nidah 45b) and so the woman went to the seashore where the two fruit trees grew. She built a house and began to cure people that came to her with various diseases. Many months later her husband came and did not recognize her, as he was stricken with the disease that had taken most of his sight. She examined him and told him she might be able to cure him. She asked him what sin he was guilty of because that was the source of his disease. The merchant spoke and said that he was once happily married to a woman he thought was wonderful and modest, but he found out that she was not truly virtuous. The woman asked him, “did you ever speak to your wife to hear what she had to say?” The merchant thought and then told the doctor that he had proof that his wife was not what he believed. The woman told him to close his eyes and listen carefully and she told him because of his blindness was that he spoke ill of his wife and believed false gossip. As she washed his face and eyes, the man began to cry and when he opened his eyes she told him that she was his wife. His wife and told him that they can rebuild their house in trust and love.

After all, “A pious wife, remaining modestly within her domestic circle, is like the altar, in atoning power for her household” (Tanchuma VaYishlach 6).

The husband investigated the matter, and found out that the stranger had lied about her, and he was brought to judgment and was forced to return all of the wealthy merchant’s property and banished from the city.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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The Torn Leaf and Stewardship

And G-d blessed them: G-d said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

It was summertime, a time for relaxation, and for restoring one’s strength. A holy rabbi was spending some time with his son in the fields and forest outside their village. The two used to take long walks through the countryside, marveling at the beauty of G-d’s world.

The fields were ripe with their golden harvest of wheat. The swollen sheaves swayed gently, promisingly, in the gentle breeze, swishing softly to and fro. It felt good to be alive!

They walked along in silence, enjoying the peace of the area, suddenly the father turned to his son, saying, and “Just look at the marvel of nature! See how G-d has a plan and a purpose for every single stalk of wheat, every puff of wind, the swaying of each blade of grass. Everything is included in G-d’s overall master plan of creation! Is it not marvelous that One so exalted and mighty should consider every tiny, minute speck on this world?”

They continued along the country road, breathing in the fresh air, each one silent with his own thoughts. Soon they came to a forest and continued walking leisurely among the trees. Engrossed in his thoughts, the boy absent-mindedly plucked a leaf off a branch. He held the leaf in his hand and from time to time would unconsciously tear off a bit and throw it away.

Tree of Life Leaf

His father noticed what he was doing and commented, “I don’t understand how you can do something destructive like that without thinking. Don’t you know that even a leaf is part of creation, that it has its purpose? Did I not just tell you how G-d guides the destiny of every tiny thing, even a leaf? Don’t you realize that a leaf is also a living thing; it breathes and grows. Why is the ‘I’ of a leaf any different than the ‘I’ of a human being? To be sure, you can think and speak while it is only a plant. Still, just as you, a human being, have a task to fill in this world, so does this leaf have a purpose to accomplish during its lifetime on this world. Are we not taught, “But I am like a leafy olive tree in the house of G-d; I put my trust in the grace of G-d forever and ever.” (Psalm 52:10)

It is important to remember that “when G-d created the first human beings, He led them around the Garden of Eden and said: “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are. How Excellent! For your sake, I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world: for, if you do, there will be no one else to repair it. (Kohelles Rabbah 7:13)

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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A Story of Two Merchants

Every day the blessing, “Blessed are you G-d, our L-rd, King of the universe who forms light and creates darkness, who makes peace and creates all things” is said and is overlooked. Many don’t realize that this blessing is based on, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am the L-rd, that does all these things. (Isaiah 45:7). One should bless the good (“I form the light…I make peace) as well as the bad (create darkness…create evil).

A question is asked, “What is the verse that alludes to this? ‘I will sing of loving-kindness and justice; unto you, O L-rd, will I sing praises’ (Psalms 101:1). Rav Acha explains: If it is loving-kindness, I will sing, and if it is justice, I will sing.” (Berachos 60b) In other words I will thank G-d in song for the bad just as for the good.

Blessings for Good and Bad

It once happened that two merchants agreed to set out on a journey to a faraway city to go to a fair to buy wares to sell in their village. They equipped themselves with all the needs and supplies for the voyage.  Together they made their way to the harbor to board a ship. As they walked through the streets, one of them stumbled and hurt his foot so badly that he was forced to cancel his trip.

The ship had weighed anchor and unfurled its sails and was ready to set sail and could not wait for the unfortunate merchant to heal from his wound. So his companion went with all the other merchants, while the merchant who had fallen and became injured remained behind, bitter and angry. He was very angry at his bad luck because he had injured his leg and could not travel with the other merchants. His anger and bitterness of losing all the profit he might have made from the journey to such a point that he complained and freely cursed the ways of heaven.

After some time news came that the ship had sunk in the sea, and all the merchants aboard had drowned. When the injured merchant heard what had happened, he began to give thanks to the Holy One, blessed be He by whose kindness he had fallen and injured his leg. The merchant realized that if he had gone on the ship he would have been lost with all the other merchants. The merchant regretted all the curses and complaints he had made and repented for all the things he had said of heaven. The merchant began to praise and extol the wonders of heaven. That’s why it says in the Book of Isaiah, “Your anger has subsided and You have comforted me.” (12:1)

What is meant by the verse, “G-d Who alone does wondrous things; blessed is His glorious Name forever” (Psalms 72:18,19)? Even the person for whom the miracle is performed is unaware of the miracle, only G-d knows it.

Based on Nidah 31a

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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A Salty Conversation

Two rabbis once set out together on a three-day journey to do a d’var mitzvah (a deed of religious importance) in a town somewhere in the countryside in a faraway country.

Along the way they stopped at an inn known for its high stan­dards of keeping kosher. The woman who owned the inn showed the holy rabbis to a special table where they could eat and discuss holy things.

She served them with great respect, and when they finished the meal she approached them and asked, “So how did you like my food?” she asked the rabbis. “Oh, it was quite good,’ one of the rabbis replied, ” but it could have used just a little more salt.”

As the woman left, the other holy rabbi turned white. “I can’t believe it” he sighed. “All my life I have avoided speaking or listening to unkind speech and now Hashem made me come with you, and I have to suffer by hearing you speak such unkind words. I regret that I came here with you and I am convinced that the purpose of our trip is not truly a holy mission after all. Otherwise this would not have happened.”

Seeing the rabbi’s reaction, his companion became flustered and frightened. “What did I say that was so wrong?” he stammered. “I said that the food was good — I only added that it needed some salt. Surely you know that ‘all dishes require salt’. (Beitza 14a)”

“You simply don’t realize the power of words” cried the upset rabbi. “Speech is a G-d given gift peculiar to man, and must not be employed for that which is degrading. (Maimonides, guide for the perplexed 3.8 c. 1190). Our hostess probably doesn’t do her own cooking. Her cook could well be a poor widow who needs this job to support her children. Now, because of what you said, the owner will go back to the kitchen and complain to the cook that the food didn’t have enough salt. In self defense the poor widow will deny it and will say, “Of course I put enough salt in the food. I even tasted it before you served it.”

 Jewish cook

“The owner will then accuse her of lying and say, “Do you think that the holy rabbis out there are liars? You are the one who is lying!” They will argue, strong words will lead to even stronger words and the owner will get so angry that she will fire the poor cook. The woman will then be out of a job. Look how many sins you caused:

You spoke unkind words;

you caused the owner and myself to listen to unkind words;

you caused the owner to repeat the unkind words and that is the sin of rechilus (speech that potentially can cause ill will between people);

you caused the cook to lie;

because of you the owner caused pain to a widow, and

you caused an argument, another Torah violation.”

The rabbi smiled at the holy rabbi, his companion and said softly and respectfully, “Rabbi, please, you are exag­gerating. You’re carrying this just a bit too far. A few simple words cannot possibly have done all that.”

“If that is what you think,” replied the holy rabbi as he stood up, “let’s go to the kitchen and see for ourselves.”

As they opened the door to the kitchen, they saw that the owner was indeed scolding the cook as the poor woman stood wiping the tears from her eyes. When the rabbi saw what was happening he became pale and ran over to the cook, begged forgiveness and apologized profusely for any harm or distress he may have caused her. He pleaded with the owner to forgive and forget the incident and begged her to let the woman stay on the job. He even offered to pay her to keep the cook.

The innkeeper was really a kindly woman and she also wanted to do as the rabbi asked. ” “It shall be as you ask, she said hastily. ” I only wanted to impress on her the need to be more careful. She is really a fine cook and she will remain here at her job.”

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Flame, Clay, Glass and Breath

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in the ancient city of Tzipori whose son had died. A man of no belief sat by his side. Rabbi Jose ben Chalafta came to visit the grieving father. The man of no belief saw that he was smiling and heard him greet the grieving father “Baruch dayan ha-emes” (Blessed is the True Judge.) The man of no belief asked, “Rabbi, How can you be so insensitive and why are you smiling?”

The rabbi replied, “I trust in G-d and believe that the man will see his son again in the World to Come.”

The man of no belief then said, “Is not his sorrow enough for the man that you should come and sadden him even more? Can broken shards be made to fit together again? Is it not written, “you will dash them to pieces like pottery (Psalms 2:9) And further it is not taught in your books, “just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead” (Jeremiah 19:11)?

The rabbi replied, “Earthen vessels are made by wa­ter and perfected by fire. Vessels of glass are both made by fire and perfected by fire. Earthen ones, if broken, can­not be repaired, but glass ones, if broken, can be repaired.”

The man of no belief accused, “How silly are you. Everyone knows that once glass is broken it shatters into thousands of shards, never to be repaired. What you say is impossible.”

The rabbi replied, “Glass vessels are made by blowing. If the glass vessel that is made by the blowing air, and when shattered can be heated by fire and again blown with air and be repaired. Then a soul and life can be blown into a mortal person by the Holy One, blessed be He. For are we not taught ‘Then G-d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2:7)

Breath of Life

The man of no belief replied, “your thoughts are not the way of the world and your ways are strange for you choose not to see or believe the wisdom of the world.”

The rabbi looked upon the man of no belief and sadly shook his head and answered, “The wonders of creation and all that is in this world and the next are gifts from G-d. We learn about people like you where it is written, ‘Fools mock at sin, but the upright enjoy God’s favor.’ (Proverbs 14:9)”

Based on Bereishis Rabbah 14:7

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Mottel the Vassertreyger

Mottel the Vassertreyger worked all day carrying water to all his customers. He was not very learned and tried but he just couldn’t understand the words. He had a big heart and tried to live according to the traditions of the Jewish people. Sadly, there were those who made fun of him because he didn’t know a lot of Torah, he stumbled through his prayers and never learned Talmud.

If anyone needed water for Shabbos, Yom Tov or for any holy purpose, Mottel would bring them all they needed without charge. There was alte Chaya Sora who always had her fill of water and Mottel refused to accept even the smallest coin from her. Mottel always made sure the two barrels at the shul were always full.

Rarely was he called up to the Torah on Shabbos as he would stumble through the blessings.  But when a strong person would be needed for hagbah, he’d open the holy Torah on the bimah (reading table), spread his arms and lift the Sacred Scroll as high as he could. When he would hold the wooden handles and the congregation would sing Ve-zos ha-torah asher sam mosheh lifnei benei yisrael, al pi Adoshem b’yad mosheh” (And this is the Torah which Moses set before the children of Israel, according to the commandment of the L-rd by the hand of Moses.) the words would wrap around his heart. A tear would form in his eye as he felt the parchment feel his joy and Mottel could almost see each word, sometimes each letter of the Law rise off the holy Torah scroll to dance around him.

Ancient scroll. Vector illustration

Mottel came to the shul for Leil Tikkun Shavuous (the custom of engaging in all-night Torah study the first night of Shavuous) but could not understand the studies, but waited patiently for the stories and songs of the night. Each story and song touched Mottel’ s heart. He knew that the words to the Torah song “etz chayim hi lamachazikim ba, Vesomecheha me’ushar. Deracheha – darechei noam, Vechol nesivosecha shalom (It is a tree of life to them that grasp it, and of them that uphold it every one is rendered happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.) was about him.

The Ten Commandments were read from the Torah on Shavuous and Mottel felt the holy words deep inside. Then someone called him for hagbah, he was chosen to hold the Torah high so everyone could see it, just like Moshe did on Mount Sinai.

 Mottel the Vassertreyger can feel the fire of G-d’s Word. Mottel didn’t know a lot of Torah, he stumbled through his prayers and never learned Talmud. Mottel doesn’t need to. The words know him.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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A Sofer’s Son’s Story

Dovid loved his father who everyday went into a special room just to write beautiful and important things. The most important were Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzahs. Dovid’s father “was a scribe, expert in the law of Moses that the L-rd  G-d of Israel had given (Ezra 7:6).

One morning, after his father went to the old wooden shul to pray, Dovid quietly went into his father’s special room to write his own Torah. The room was so neat, the surface of his father’s writing desk clean and ready. Dovid took a sheet of parchment from a large wooden drawer. He took a jar of ink and a quill off the shelf and climbed into his father’s chair so he could reach the top of the desk. He poured some ink into a small glass just like his father. And as he dipped the quill into the ink, he trembled a little as he was filled with awe and joy at the same time. Dovid would write his own Torah! The Torah of his father and his father’s father, who received it from the rabbis, who received it from the prophets, who received it from the judges, who received it from Joshua, who received it from Moses himself, who stood in G-d’s Holy Presence at Mount Sinai. And for a moment Dovid was there, he was there at Mount Sinai with Moshe and Aaron and Miriam. Dovid saw the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud. He heard the strong voice of the Holy One, blessed be He began to speak the words that all nations heard and the deafening silence that followed. He watched as G-d held the holy mountain over the people’s heads. And Dovid the sofer’s son said to no one in particular, “Na’aseh v’neeshma. I will do, and I will listen.” (Exodus 24:7)

Torah Story Tour

So Dovid began to write the first few words, Bereishis (In the beginning), Barah. (created), Elokim (G-d). “Yes!” Dovid thought. What could be more true and perfect and full of love then G-d in the beginning creating the world and us in order of give us the most beautiful and holy book ever? In order to give it to me?

Just then, his father walked into the study. Dovid looked up at his father and looked back at his work. Drips of ink on the desk. Smudges on the back of the parchment. And three beautiful words of Torah.

“Taty, I’m writing a Torah.”

Torah script

His father picked him up and scolded him and told Dovid

never to do this again

and that Dovid did a beautiful job and

never to do this again

and how proud Papa was of Dovid and

never to do this again.

His father put Dovid back in the chair, a tear of joy in his eye. “We’ll clean this up together.”

But in his heart his father said:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-Olam shecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higyanu lazman hazeh.” (Blessed are You, O L-rd our G-d, for giving us life, sustaining us and allowing us to reach this joyous time.)

And G-d looked down at Dovid and his father and all the beautiful and holy words they had made had made. And G-d said, “Tov Me-od.” It is very good.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Judge Others Favorably

We speak and learn so much about religion, values, prayer and ritual, yet forget the important aspects of faith. To live by the standards established in the holy words of the T’NaCh (Scriptures). We should look upon all around us favorably and give them the benefit of the doubt.

The rabbis taught about two thousand years ago: “In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor… with justice you shall judge your neighbor. (Lev. 19:15.) When you see a person doing what appears to be wrong, take a favorable view of his action.” (Shevu’os 30a)

Judging others favorably not only fulfills a religious requirement, it provides a number of benefits.

Vayikra 19-15

A 13th century Spanish rabbi wrote a book which systematically discusses the 613 commandments of the Torah (Scriptures) in which he “stated  that  each  person is required to judge others favorably …promotes peace and friendship and therefore, the purpose of this mitzvah (the mitzvah to judge righteously) is to improve society with a sense of righteousness and provide peace by removing suspicion of one to another. (Sefer HaChinuch no. 235)

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot directs that “One should judge all people favorably.” (Avot 1:6)  Rabbeinu Yonah (d. 1263), in his commentary to Avot 1 :6, writes that we should assume that they realize their mistakes and are working on trying to improve themselves. This concept is often associated with the prohibition against accepting evil speech and gossip.


Once upon a time a religious man ransomed a beautiful woman from prison, and when they came to the inn in the evening, he put the young woman to sleep at the foot of his bed. In the morning he immersed himself in the purifying waters, and then he went to teach his students. While he was teaching them he asked his students, “Did you suspect me of anything last night when you saw the young maiden lying at the foot of my bed?” They answered, “We did not suspect you of anything; we thought that you put her near you because you had among your students one whom you did not know, and you would not let her sleep in a separate room for fear that harm might come to her.”

Then the religious man asked, “Why did you think I went in the morning and immersed in the purifying waters?”

“What else do you believe we could have thought,” replied his students, “except that probably on the way you had touched something unclean which made it necessary for you to immerse in the purifying waters?”

Then he said, “I swear that it was exactly as you thought. And as for you–as you judged me on the scale of merit, so may He who is everywhere judge you on the scale of merit

Based on B. Shabbos 127b and Ma’asah Book #21

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3) Please share this story with others. Leave your comments and thoughts if you like.