Thursday, May 31, 2012

Identifying the Problem

Perhaps, in its own way, the hardest test for every Jew is to own up when we have failed so that we can really change our ways. Rav Yaakov Galinsky, shlit”a, points the challenge inherent in this with his usual biting humor. “In Novardohk they would tell a story of a certain young man who was always late for cheder. Day after day this child was punished, only to be tardy yet again the following day. One day the melamed asked the boy directly. ‘Why are you late every day?’ He answered, ‘Rebbe, my problems are that I am disorganized and forgetful. When I go to sleep each night I drop my clothes wherever and go to bed. The next morning it takes me a long time to get dressed. Is it any wonder that I come late?’ “The melamed offered practical advice. ‘All you need to do is to write a list of precisely where you dropped each article of clothing. The next morning when you wake up, consult the list and you will know exactly where you left your clothes the night before.’ “The boy went home with a lightened heart. The next day the child didn’t come at all. As soon as he was able, the melamed rushed to the young man’s house. He found the boy at his house, fully dressed but obviously very bewildered. “’What happened?’ he asked. “’I did exactly what you said. I wrote down that my tzitzis were in the garden, my shirt on the chair, my pants on the floor etc, I said hamapil with great joy and went to sleep. This morning I woke up and got dressed quickly but I still cannot locate the final item. It says clearly that I am in bed, but I checked my bed—and everywhere else—many times and cannot seem to find myself…’ Rav Yaakov concluded, “This is obviously a joke, but it is so sad. How many of us are looking to find ourselves but cannot seem to do so! The very first question we will be asked in the next world is, ‘Ayekah?’ Where did you go and what did you do? Where did you plant yourself and what happened with you?”

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