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Jewlarious Jokes 12/2/2022

Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State Police Officer sees a car puttering along at 22 MPH. He thinks to himself, “This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!” So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

Approaching the car, he notices that there are five elderly ladies, eyes wide and white as ghosts. Bubbie, obviously confused, says to him, “Officer, I don’t understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?”

“Ma’am,” the officer replies, “you weren’t speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers.”

“Slower than the speed limit?” she asked. “No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly… 22 MPH!” Bubbie says proudly.

The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that “22” was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, she grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

The officer said, “But before I let you go, ma’am, I have to ask. Is everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken, and they haven’t muttered a single peep this whole time,” the officer says.

Bubbie replied, “Oh, they’ll be all right in a minute officer. We just got off Route 119.”

***

The upset and concerned housewife Rivkah sprang to the telephone when it rang and listened with relief to the kindly voice.

“Darling, how are you? This is Momma.”

“Oh Momma,” she said, “I’m having a bad day.” Breaking into bitter tears, she continued, “The baby won’t eat and the washing machine broke down. I haven’t had a chance to go shopping, and besides, I’ve just sprained my ankle and I have to hobble around. On top of that, the house is a mess and I’m supposed to have the Goldbergs and Rosens for dinner tonight.”

The voice on the other end said in sympathy, “Darling, let Momma handle it.” She continued, “Sit down, relax and close your eyes. I’ll be over in half an hour. I’ll do your shopping, clean up the house and cook your dinner for you. I’ll feed the baby and I’ll call a repairman I know who’ll be at your house to fix the washing machine promptly. Now stop crying. I’ll do everything. In fact, I’ll even call your husband Morty at the office and tell him he ought to come home and help out for once.”

“Morty?” said Rivkah. “Who’s Morty?”

“Why, Morty’s your husband!….Is this 223-1374?”

“No, this is 223-1375.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I have the wrong number.”

There was a short pause, then Rivkah said, “Does this mean you’re not coming over?”

***

A young woman brings home her fiance to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out about the young man. The father invites the fiance to his study for a drink.

“So what are your plans?” the father asks the young man.

“I am a Torah scholar,” he replies.

“A Torah scholar. Hmmm,” the father says. “Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she’s accustomed to?”

“I will study,” the young man replies, “and G-d will provide for us.”

“And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” asks the father.

“I will concentrate on my studies,” the young man replies. “G-d will provide for us.”

“And children?” asks the father. “How will you support the children?”

“Don’t worry, sir. G-d will provide,” replies the fiance.

The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insists that G-d will provide.

Later that evening the mother asks, “How did it go, Honey?”

The father answers, “He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I’m G-d.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rachel’s Sensitivity

In Midrash Eichah, the Sages tell us that when the Jews sinned with idol worship during the First Temple Era, a heavenly decree of annihilation came forth against them.  Along came the souls of the Patriarchs to plead for mercy for their sons and to find some merit for them so that they, and the Temple, wouldn’t be destroyed because of their sins.

Abraham delivered the opening argument by saying: “Master of the Universe!  At 100 you gave me a son.  When he intellectually matured and became a 37-yearold man, you told me to sacrifice him before You, and I did not take pity on him— and You’re not going to remember that and take pity on Your sons?!”

Yitzchok then said: “Master of the Universe!  When Father said to me, ‘G-d will show the sheep for the sacrifice,’ I did not hinder at Your words and I willingly let myself be bound upon the altar—and You’re not going to remember that and take pity on Your sons?!”

Now here is where we get to our week’s Torah portion:

Yaakov then spoke up and said: “Master of the Universe!  Did I not live with Lavan for 20 years?  And when I left his home, I was accosted by the evil Esav who wanted to murder my children, and I sacrificed my life for them!  And now, they have been handed to their enemies after I raised them and bore the pain of parenting for them—and You’re not going to have pity on my sons?!

Finally, Moshe Rabbeinu — Moses himself, the greatest Jew who ever lived — spoke up and said: “Master of the Universe!  I didn’t serve as a faithful shepherd of Israel for 40 years, running ahead of them in the desert like a horse, for you to not take pity on them now that they’re being exiled!”

Each one came forth and recounted their own merits before G-d.  But G-d did not reply to them until the soul of our Matriarch Rochel came forth and mentioned the very story we read in the Torah this week.  She said: “G-d, You know clearly that Your servant Yaakov had extra love for me and worked seven years for me, and when our marriage date came, my father schemed to switch me with my sister—and I had pity on my sister that she not be subjected to humiliation, and so I gave her the secret signs I had given my groom so he’d think it was me…”

Immediately, the Midrash tells us, G-d’s Mercies were stirred and He said, “Because of you, Rochel, I will return Israel to their place.”  That’s why, the Midrash tells us, there is a verse that states, “Hold back your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears… your sons will return to their borders.”

WHY WAS SHE SPECIAL

How did Rochel merit more than Avraham, Moshe Rabbeinu and all the other Patriarchs?  How did her merit save her people?

Avraham and Yitzchok, for their part, cited the Akeidah, the Binding upon the

Altar. What could be a stronger, more dramatic example of self-sacrifice than that?

Moshe Rabbeinu, the redeemer of Israel, was the consummate faithful servant — who better to come before G-d with complaints than him?  And so on and so forth with all the Patriarchs.

Nevertheless, only Rochel’s argument was heard.  Why?  Because Rochel helped her sister.  This act of compassion towards a sister who was a victim is what influenced G-d, standing the test more than all the great deeds of the Akeidah and the deeds of the Patriarchs.

This is an example of Judaism’s approach towards the little things.  Sometimes it is specifically the little things, the discreet and hidden things, the unimportant things that seemingly no one knows about and that no one will ever know.  It is specifically these types of acts that fulfill the highest mission more than the famous and prominent deeds.

We find a similar example in Avraham Avinu’s life.  When the three guests who looked like Arabs came to him and Avraham exerted himself in the mitzvah of welcoming guests, the Talmud tells us (Tractate Bava Metzia 86b) that in the merit of this simple mitzvah that Avraham toiled in, tending to three anonymous transients who worshiped their own feet’s dust, the nation of Israel merited to many good things.  “In the merit of three guests, they merited three Patriarchs; in the merit of the butter and milk Avraham served, they merited the manna; in the merit of Avraham standing over them, they merited to the Clouds of Glory; and in the merit of Avraham’s offering ‘a little water,’ they merited the Well of Miriam,” the Talmud says.

THE TRUE HEROES

We see that in Judaism, it’s not only the great act of heroism that wows everybody, the act that leaves generations standing in awe wondering how they could ever aspire to such a level of might and sacrifice, like the Akeidah. Judaism is built on lesser things too—little day-to-day things.

I remember how the Rebbe once spoke about this explicitly, saying that a shliach’s purpose is not to revolutionize the world but just the opposite—to come to his little city and convince one Jew to put on tefillin and a second Jew to put up a mezuzah.  Why?  Because Judaism is built upon simple acts by ordinary people who together form this thing called Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel) or Klal Yisroel (the Jewish Community), comprised of Jewish individuals, who together unite the whole Jewish world from the furthest corners and the smallest towns of the world.

People often complain to me, “I’m wasting my time—I don’t feel that I make a difference.”  I especially hear this from housewives who raise children but don’t feel accomplished.  The truth, however, is that it’s just the opposite—teaching a Jewish kid to say “Shema,” making sure he goes to school, teaching him to invite guests and teaching him to give in to his little sister when she wants something… these are the acts that are just as important as Avraham’s Akeida.

Good Shabbos

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Jewlarious Jokes 11/25/2022

Goldstein had been going to the same restaurant for 10 years. Every day he starts with the same thing, barley soup. One day, as soon as he comes in, the waiter brings the soup over to his table.

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein says as the waiter starts to walk away.

“What’s the matter?” the waiter asks, “Every day you take the same barley soup.”

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein repeats.

“You don’t want the barley soup?” the waiter says, “I’ll bring you something else.”

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein says once more.

“Is it too cold? Too salty? G-d forbid is there a fly in it? What’s wrong with it?” said the waiter.

“Just taste the soup,” insists Goldstein.

“Okay, okay, I’ll taste the soup,” says the waiter, wearily. “Where’s the spoon?”

“Aha!”

***

Two Jewish women were sitting under hair dryers at the hairdresser. The first lady says, “So nu, how’s your family?”

The second one responds, “Oh just fine. My daughter is married to the most wonderful man. She never has to cook; he always takes her out. She never has to clean; he got her a housekeeper. She never has to work; he’s got such a good job. She never has to worry about the children, he got her a nanny.”

She continues with a question to the first lady, “So how is your son these days?”

The first woman says, “Just awful. He is married to such a witch of a woman. She makes him take her out to dinner every night, she never cooks a dish. She made him get her a housekeeper, G-d forbid she should vacuum a carpet! He has to work like a dog because she won’t get a job and she never takes care of their children, because she made him get her a nanny!”

***

There was a man called Yaakov who lived near a river in America. He was a very religious man.

One day, the river rose over the banks and flooded the town, and Yaakov was forced to climb onto his porch roof. While he was sitting there, a man in a boat came along and told Yaakov to get in the boat. Yaakov said, “No, that’s OK, G-d will take care of me.” So, the man in the boat drove off.

The water rose, so Yaakov climbed onto his roof. At that time, another boat came along and the person in that one told Yaakov to get in. He replied, “No, that’s OK, G-d will take care of me.” The person in the boat left.

The water rose even more, and Yaakov climbed on his chimney. Then a helicopter came and lowered a ladder. The man in the helicopter told Yaakov to climb up the ladder and get in. He told the man, “That’s OK.” The pilot said, “Are you sure?” Yaakov said, “Yeah, I’m sure G-d will take care of me.”

Finally, the water rose too high and Yaakov drowned. He got up to Heaven and spoke with the angel at the gate. Yaakov questioned, “Why didn’t G-d take care of me! What happened?”

The angel replied, “Well, He sent you two boats and a helicopter. What else did you want?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeing the Positive

There are two types of Jews in the world. There are people who are always telling you their problems, and they always have problems to share. The minute one issue is resolved they are lucky enough to find another one to complain about. These I call the “Oy Jews.” Then there are the “Joy Jews.” You know who I’m talking about, the people who always have a smile on their face and a good word to say.

In this week’s parsha we read that after twenty years of infertility, Rebecca’s prayers are finally answered and she conceives. However her pregnancy is very painful, so painful in fact that she begins to think, “Why did I want this?” She starts to regret all of her praying and wishing for a child. In her distress and confusion she seeks the advice of the spiritual leader, the Rebbe of the generation. Rashi says this was Shem the son of Noah who was still alive at that time.

This poses a problem: According to the Midrash (Bireishis Rabbah 56), Shem (also called Malki Zedek) lived in Jerusalem. Rebecca lived with her pious husband and father-in-law in Beer-Sheba, very far from Jerusalem. The natural thing for her to do would be to discuss her pain with them. Why did Rebecca travel all the way to Jerusalem to see a prophet when she had two prophets living in her home?

In answering this question (Toldos 5748, Sefer Hasichos pg. 520) the Rebbe taught a tremendous insight which sheds light on Rebecca’s entire life.

The Rebbe explained: Rebecca knew that by telling her husband or father-in-law that after all of their praying and waiting she was suffering so badly that she was beginning to regret the whole thing, they would have been pained greatly. Instead, she schlepped herself all the way to Jerusalem on a camel, not wanting to cause such great Tzaddikim any anguish.

Rebecca wasn’t the kind of person to share her woes with others. On the contrary, she wanted only to spread good news and happiness. Therefore, she was willing to take on even greater discomfort so long as she wouldn’t have to burden her family with her own pain.

 WHY SHE STOLE THE BLESSINGS

As I said, this insight sheds light on Rebecca’s whole life; so now we can also understand the main story of our parsha; the story of the stolen blessings.

Everyone who reads this story is shocked. How could it be that Rebecca should come up with such a ‘devious’ plan to deceive Isaac? And how could Jacob whom scripture designates “the Honest Man,” agree to go along with such a plan? In the end, when they did succeed in procuring the blessings through trickery, Isaac himself told Esau, “Your brother came with cunning and took your blessings!”

The proper thing for Rebecca to do would be to sit down with Isaac in his office and discuss the issue with him. She should have told him that in her opinion Jacob was more deserving of the blessings than Esau. If you know anything about Jewish wives you’d agree with me that chances are very good that Rebecca would have changed Jacob’s mind without a problem. But this trickery seems completely unbecoming!

However, now that we’ve learned the Rebbe’s insight it all makes sense.

Just imagine, if Rebecca was to sit down with Isaac and discuss the issue with him, what could she have told him?

That even as a fetus whenever she’d pass by a house of idol-worship Esau was so drawn to it that he would fight to get out of the womb?

Could she tell him that for forty years Esau had been stalking other men’s wives and abusing them?

Maybe she could tell him that Esau was married to non-Jewish women and they were lighting incenses to pagan gods in Isaac’s own home?

Or maybe she could have told him that on the day of his Bar Mitzvah which was also the day of his grandfather Abraham’s passing, Esau “celebrated” by doing all of the following: violated a girl who was engaged, killed a man, denied G-d’s existence outright, rejected the fundamental concept of resurrection and threw away his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup! (Bava Basra 16b)

Certainly, if Isaac would have known all of this, he would never have wanted to bestow such blessings upon Esau. But Rebecca realized that Isaac didn’t know what kind of man Esau really was. Rebecca also knew that Isaac had prophetic powers – but that G-d was hiding from him all of the wicked deeds Esau did every day to spare him from the pain this knowledge would bring.

If Rebecca would have told Isaac all of this, she would have won him over completely. Even after hearing a part of it, Isaac would have happily given the blessings to Jacob instead of Esau. But Isaac would also suffer great anguish from hearing such things about his own son.

Now, no parent is prepared to hear people criticize their children, even if they know the people are telling the truth. Especially in this case where we’re not dealing with small misbehavior problems; Esau was a criminal! Any person, even someone without children, can imagine how great Isaac’s pain would be to hear this about his son.

[Perhaps this is why G-d weakened Isaac’s eyes – so he wouldn’t have to watch as

Esau sank to the depths.]

So would Rebecca, who would travel all the way from Beer-Sheba to Jerusalem to spare her husband any pain, ever agree to tell Isaac the truth about Esau and cause him immense pain and anguish?

No way! She felt it was better to resort to trickery than to break Isaac’s heart so irreparably.

SEEING THE POSITIVE

What’s the lesson for us?

There are people who love to share their troubles with others. No matter when, they will always be complaining that the business isn’t so good and the health is always a little “shvach” and so on. And nobody really likes these people; we tolerate them but we don’t enjoy being in their company. But people like Rebecca, who always have good things to say and never share their woes with others – they spread joy and happiness to everyone around them.

The great philosophers of our times are all predicting a dark future for the Jewish people. They have everyone talking about “the Vanishing American Jew.” But anyone who was lucky enough to witness the Shluchim’s Convention knows that Judaism is flourishing and every day Jews are returning to their faith. The Shluchim and Chabad as a whole have a positive outlook on the Jewish future. Shluchim don’t know of any “vanishing American Jews” they only see “flourishing American Jews.”

Good shabbos!

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Jewlarious Jokes 11/18/2022

The rabbi was an avid golfer and played at every opportunity. He was so addicted to the game that if he didn’t play he would get withdrawal symptoms. One Yom Kippur the rabbi thought to himself, “What’s it going to hurt if I go out during the recess and play a few rounds. Nobody will be the wiser, and I’ll be back in time for services.”

Sure enough, at the conclusion of the morning service, the rabbi snuck out of the synagogue and headed straight for the golf course. Looking down upon the scene were Moses and G-d.

Moses said, “Look how terrible—a Jew on Yom Kippur. And a rabbi besides!”

G-d replied, “Watch. I’m going to teach him a lesson.”

Out on the course, the rabbi stepped up to the first tee. When he hit the ball, it careened off a tree, struck a rock, skipped across a pond and landed in the hole for a HOLE IN ONE!

Seeing all this, Moses protested: “G-d, this is how you’re going to teach him a lesson? He got a hole in one!”

“Sure,” said G-d, “but who’s he going to tell?”

***

A little Jewish boy was telling his mother about how he had won a part in a play that was being done at school.

His mother asked, “What is the part you will play, Saul?” Saul responded, “I shall play the Jewish husband,” to which the mother replied, “Well, you go right back to that teacher and tell her that you want a SPEAKING part!”

***

Three sons of a Yiddishe Mama left their homeland, went abroad and prospered. They discussed the gifts they were able to give their ageing mother:

Avraham, the first son, said, “I built a big house for our mother.”

Moishe, the second, said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.”

David, the youngest, said, “You remember how our mother enjoys reading the Bible? Now she can’t see very well. I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the whole Bible—Mama just has to name the chapter and verse.”

Soon thereafter, a letter of thanks came from their mother:

“Avraham,” she said, “the house you built is so huge. I live only in one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Moishe,” she said, “I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home so I rarely use the Mercedes. And that driver has shpilkas—he’s a pain in the tuchas. But David,” she said, “the chicken was delicious!”

 

 

 

 

 

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How to convince your children to marry Jewish

In the month of Cheshvan late in the year 1939, not too long after World War II had broken out, there was a young Chasidic couple in Poland who had just gotten engaged.  And they were now making every effort to leave Polish soil and immigrate to the United States.

But in those days, everyone wanted to flee Europe and especially Poland, which had been overrun and occupied by the Germans. But the United States had a limited number of people from each country whom it could admit and provide with entry visas.

At that time, the entry quota for Polish citizens had been filled—but Russian citizens could still get entry visas to the United States.

Now, with this couple, the groom had Russian citizenship while his bride was a Polish citizen.  So, to allow her to immigrate to the United States too, they staged a fictitious wedding and got their marriage license and thus, in the form of a married couple, they succeeded in getting the coveted entry visas.

And so, on the first of November of 1939, the young couple boarded a packed ship filled with refugees, most of whom were Jews wanting to flee from the war as fast as possible.

But here, a new problem cropped up.  The ship’s crew accepted them as a married couple and as such, gave them a shared room.  However, a Chasidic couple not yet married cannot stay in the same room even for one moment.  According to Halachah, a bride and groom are like two complete strangers for all matters.

Here, however, they could not reveal the secret that they were only married on paper.

So, the bride approached a steward with a fallen face that broadcast distress.  She told him that she was a fresh newlywed and revealed to him that her new husband snored at night—and that it was simply unbearable.  It was one thing if they were in a house; then each of them could sleep in a different room.  But here on a ship, in a single little room, it was simply impossible!

In those days, when everyone was trying to save their lives, such a request sounded completely unreasonable.  Here you had millions of people who could only wish for a room on that same ship, and here, this young woman was worried about snoring!  But she complained that it was too much and that she wasn’t capable of remaining with him in the same room.  She was prepared to sleep in any corner the steward would provide her—even in a closet!

She added that she was prepared to help out on the ship in any way she could—as long as he would give her a corner in which to sleep.

So the steward took pity on her and found a corner somewhere for her.

However, the news spread among the passengers about the young couple that had only gotten married a few weeks ago and now were already fighting so much that they couldn’t even stay in the same room.

So a lot of good people with good intentions tried to “make peace.”  They told her that life is short.  They berated her for being involved with petty squabbles during wartime. “Grow up and learn to live together.”  But none of these people “succeeded” in “making peace” between the “husband” and “wife.”

Obviously, then, the next step was the gossip and rumors that spread throughout the ship’s passengers about the stubborn “couple” that wasn’t ready to compromise.  Of course, everyone added something to the story from their fertile imaginations; after all, there was nothing else to do on the ship except busy one’s self in these stories.

Several months later, after they had all arrived safely in NY, many passengers were surprised to receive an invitation to the wedding of the young couple. Before the actual Chuppah, they all stood in line to beg forgiveness from the bride for slandering her and believing her to be some sort of finicky spoiled brat who wasn’t at all willing to work things out with her husband (Rabbi Zalman & Chava Gurarie a”h).

 ISAAC’S MATCH

And that brings us to this week’s Torah portion of Chayei Sarah.

The parshah of Chayei Sarah is the parshah of engagements and marriages. And in our parshah, we learn about the first engagement in Jewish history—that of Yitzchak and Rivkah.

The story goes as follows.

Avraham summons his servant and binds him by an oath to go forth and find a match for his son—to not bring him a local girl even if she may be a fine young woman. Rather, Avraham specifically wants someone from his greater family. He wants his servant to go to “my land and my birthplace” of Aram Naharaim and bring him someone from the clan.

So Eliezer the servant asks a very practical question: “Perhaps the woman won’t want to go after me?”

As human nature goes, it’s only normal for a girl to want to live near her parents. A guy will have no problem living far away from his parents—but a woman’s natural tendency is to live near her father and mother.

Eliezer’s question was a very good one: Why would she suddenly want to abandon her country, her birthplace and her father’s home and go to a strange land? She hasn’t even met the groom, and I haven’t even brought his picture!

But Avraham answers him: “G-d, the Lord of the Heavens, will send His angel before you”—G-d who always helped me will help me here too. But if not, then “you shall be purged of my oath”—you are free from having to marry him off, but under no circumstances are you to try to marry him off to a local girl.

But even Avraham knew the rule that “one does not rely on a miracle,” that a person needs to do whatever he can physically do to attain the goal for which he strives. And so Avraham also did something physical in order to convince any potential bride to want to leave it all behind and run to the land of Canaan to marry Yitzchak.

What was that? We’re about to find out.

THE BRIBERY
Eliezer gets to Aram Naharayim, and prays to G-d that the one that he’ll ask for a bit of water will also offer water to the camels on her own, and then he’ll know that this is the woman suitable for Yitzchak. And indeed, Rivkah immediately came out to draw water at the well and Eliezer asked for a little water from her and on her own, she said, “I’ll draw for your camels too.”

When Eliezer understood that this was the woman suited for Yitzchak, he didn’t try to convince her that there was a young man, a scholar, waiting for her in a faraway land. Instead, the first thing the Torah (Bereishis 24:22) tells us is: “And the man took a gold nose ring… and two bracelets on her hands.” In other words, he gave her gifts. The girl immediately ran to her mother and told her that some rich guy came here and gave her presents.

When her brother saw the nose ring and the bracelets, he immediately ran outside to meet the “rich uncle,” and they brought him into the house and gave him much honor. And then Eliezer introduced himself by saying “I am Avraham’s servant,” only then starting his sales pitch on why it was worth it for them to send their daughter to a faraway land to marry someone she never even met.

Then Eliezer tells them just who Avraham is: “G-d blessed my master greatly.” He then goes on to describe Avraham’s wealth: “And He gave him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, and servants and maids and donkeys.” And then comes the main pitch: “Sarah bore him a son, and he gave him all that he has.”

And Rashi continues, adding: “He displayed a gift contract,” to which Rashi adds that Avraham had done so “so that they would jump to send him their daughter.” Avraham had handed Eliezer a document in which it was written that all of Avraham’s assets were to be given as a gift to Yitzchak as soon as he would get married—an offer one couldn’t refuse.

But the Rebbe points out that Eliezer did not bring a will from Avraham that said that at the end of his life, his son Yitzchak would inherit everything, because a will can always be changed as long as the person is alive. As we indeed see in modern life, it often happens that people fight with their kids and change their minds and write new wills.

Avraham chose to write in black and white terms that he was handing over all his wealth as a gift now to Yitzchak, and he signed up two famous people as witnesses so that everyone would know that the contract was a genuine contract— and ultimately, Rivkah really did agree to come, and the match was made.

MAKE IT HAPPEN!
The lesson to us from this story is that a person needs to do everything to ensure that his son or daughter will marry a spouse from “the greater family”—from the Jewish People.

A lot of people will tell you that they threatened their kids that if they don’t marry a Jewish girl, then they will not put them in their wills—but that their kids didn’t react much to that. They were young, and their parents were also young, and so something that will happen in 30 years doesn’t move them too much. After all, who knows what will be then? Maybe the wife will “convert,” and even if not, then she will be “accepted” by the family over the years, the parents will forgive him, and so on.

But if you tell your son, “Listen: If you marry a Jewish girl, I will give you a large portion of my assets right now,” then it’s a completely different story. We’re not expecting anyone to sacrifice his entire life like Avraham and give their kids their entire fortune—but 30 percent can also convince a child that it’s a worthwhile investment.

And so, my friends, ever since the days of Avraham and to this very day, money always convinces more than any explanation in the world. Let us use our assets to positively influence our children to do what is right!

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AVRAHAM’S NEGOTIATION

From time to time, American eyes focus on some major natural disaster: a wildfire, a hurricane, an outbreak of tornadoes, a flood, an earthquake or a tsunami. We all stand by wondering, “What can we do? What should we do?” Perhaps we should send a donation. Maybe we should pray. What is our moral obligation at these times?

As always, answers for everything may be found in the parshah.

This week, we read about the ancient cities of S’dom and Amorah. G-d said to Himself, “Since I am going to destroy these cities, I have to tell Avraham first.” He turned to Avraham and said, “The cry of S’dom and Amorah is so great, and their sin is so very weighty.”

Avraham immediately understood what G-d was talking about: He wanted to punish S’dom and Amorah. So Avraham immediately began to plead for mercy for them, using the well-known question, “Will You actually wipe out the innocent with the guilty? … Shall the Judge of the whole world not act justly?” In other words: maybe there are a couple of good people in town—how can it be that the good die because of the evil?

Avraham argued the opposite—let the wicked be saved by the merit of the righteous. Indeed, G-d agreed and said, “If I find fifty good people I’ll pardon them all.” So Avraham, like every good Jew, immediately began bargaining: “What if there are only 45? Will You destroy both entire cities for only five less?” G-d again agreed to this deal—but, unfortunately, there weren’t 45 good people in S’dom and Amorah. The negotiations between Avraham and G-d continued with 40, 30, 20, and 10 individuals—but even ten tzadikim, ten perfectly good people, were not found in S’dom and Amorah by G-d.

This is how the dialogue ends: “G-d departed, and Avraham returned to his place.”

What’s happening here? Why did G-d come to tell Avraham? Did G-d need Avraham’s permission to destroy S’dom?

The Midrash on our parshah explains: “When G-d’s creations sin and provoke Him and He gets angry at them, what does He do? He seeks out an advocate to seek their merit, and gives the advocate a path … since the S’domites had sinned, Avraham was notified to seek their merit.” In other words, G-d came to Avraham and said, “Convince Me not to punish them.” G-d pleaded with Avraham to stop Him.

But what did G-d expect from Avraham to do that He Himself did not do?

DID YOU FAINT?

In a 1982 talk, the Rebbe related the story of how the Polish government enacted an unjust law in the inter-war years against its Jewish citizens, and how a contingent of distinguished Jews traveled to the capitol to overturn the law.

However, they were unable to accomplish anything.

When this group visited Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, the great European Jewish leader known as the Chofetz Chaim, to report on the fruitless results, they told him how they had met with a particular government minister to present their case but got nothing done. The Chofetz Chaim rhetorically asked: “Did any one of you faint during your meeting? If the issue truly touched you, one of you should have passed out!”

When G-d told Avraham that He was going to destroy S’dom, He expected a different reaction from Avraham altogether. He expected Avraham to pass out—to care so much that he simply would not have been able to stand. Instead, G-d heard from Avraham a reasoned, well-thought-out argument about how it wasn’t “ethical” to murder innocent people along with evildoers.

But you don’t successfully sway G-d with intellectual proofs, because “all His ways are just” and are always right. What G-d wanted was for Avraham’s very heart and very blood to shout out: “G-d, don’t do that!”

There is a famous story from the Talmud (Tractate Taanis 3:8) that relates to the natural disasters that sometimes hit various parts of our country or the world. In the time of the Second Temple in ancient Israel there was a drought, and the tzadik of the generation, Choni HaMagal, was approached to pray for rain. He prayed, but no rain fell.

What did he do? He drew a circle around him on the ground and called out:

“Master of the World! Your sons have turned their faces to me … I swear by Your Great Name that I’m not budging until you have mercy on Your sons.”

A light, gentle rain began to fall. Choni again addressed G-d: “That’s not what I asked for!” A fierce rainstorm broke out. “That’s not what I asked for! I asked for rains of blessing!” Finally, proper rain began falling.

Note that Choni HaMagal did not open with dialogue or debate with G-d. He did not invoke the “unfairness” or “immorality” of lack of rain. He simply swore that he wasn’t moving until it rained. He gave G-d an ultimatum: do exactly what I say and nothing else—I’m only leaving here on a stretcher. That’s how he succeeded in making it rain.

DON’T ENJOY YOUR BREAD

In the biography of Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson, who helped spearhead Lubavitch in Brooklyn, New York from the 1930s onward, it is recounted how in 1930 he brought several community members to privately meet with the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn, of righteous memory. After they had left, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Jacobson: “How can you have such spiritually weak people in your synagogue?” Rabbi Jacobson replied, “What can I do about it?” The Rebbe responded, “I don’t know what you can do—but you certainly should not be able to enjoy your bread.”

What the Rebbe was saying was: I can’t tell you want to do—but if it really bothered you to the extent that you couldn’t eat, then you’d figure out what to do.

The same thing applies to forest fires or other such natural disasters. You can’t tell someone else what to do. Not everyone is in the same situation. Not everyone has the same options. But you can have caring—when you care, then you’ll figure out what to do.

What is the lesson to us? The lesson is that we need to truly care about our Jewishness. Our kids need to know that their parents will literally pass out if certain things happen. They need to see that you’ll turn the world upside down to find Shabbos candles even when you’re on vacation. They need to see that you’ll change your whole schedule on Purim just so you can hear the Megillah reading.

They need to see that you truly care, just as it is with G-d.

Debates and sophisticated rationalizations will convince no one of anything.

Kids just want to know how much you really care.

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Jewlarious Jokes 11/11/2022

A Jewish mother’s answering machine:

For Kugel, press 1
For knishes, press 2
For chicken soup, press 3
For matzoh balls in the soup, press 4

…If you’re calling to ask how I am feeling, you have the wrong number, because no one ever asks how I am feeling. No really, I am fine.

***

Did you hear about the successful businessman whose daughter got married to a frum young man?

The businessman had a meeting with his new son-in-law. “I love my daughter very much, and now I welcome you into the family,” said the man. “To show you how much we care for you, I am making you a 50-50 partner in my business. All you have to do is go to the factory every day and learn the operations.”

The son-in-law interrupted, “I hate factories. I can’t stand the noise.”

“I see,” replied the father-in-law. “Well, then you’ll work in the office and take charge of some of the operations.”

“I hate office work,” said the son-in-law. “I can’t stand being stuck behind a desk all day.”

“Wait a minute,” said the father-in-law. “I just made you a half-owner of a moneymaking organisation, but you don’t like factories and you won’t work in an office. What am I going to do with you?”

“Easy,” said the young man. “Buy me out.”

***

Students were asked to write an essay about elephants:

Jack writes about the horrors of the ivory trade.
Jodie writes about the plight of the Indian elephant.
Homer writes about the mating ritual of the elephant.
Moshe writes about the elephant and the Jewish problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jewlarious Jokes 11/4/2022

Moishe asked Shmuel, “Was your wife outspoken?”

Shmuel said, “Not by anyone I know of.”

***

A Jewish grandmother is giving directions to her grown grandson who is coming to visit with his wife.

She says, “You come to the front door of the apartment complex. I am in apartment 14T. There is a big panel at the door. With your elbow, push button 14T. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right. Get in, and with your elbow hit 14. When you get out I am on the left. With your elbow, hit my doorbell.”

“Bubbie, that sounds easy, but why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?” the grandson asks.

The bubbie replies, “You’re coming empty handed?”

***

Moishe is driving in Jerusalem. He’s late for a meeting and looking for a parking space but can’t find one. In desperation, he turns his face upwards and says, “Lord, if you find me a parking space, I promise that I’ll eat only Kosher and will respect Shabbat and all the holidays.”

Miraculously, a space opens up just in front of him. He turns his face back up and says, “Never mind, I just found one!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jewlarious Jokes 10/28/2022

A Jewish father calls his son in New York and tells him, “I hate to tell you, but your mother and I can’t stand each other anymore and we are divorcing. That’s it! I want to live out the rest of my years in peace. I am telling you now so you and your sister shouldn’t go into shock later when I move out.”

The father hangs up and David immediately calls his sister and tells her the news. The sister says, “I’ll handle this.”

She calls Florida and gets her father on the phone. She pleads to her father, “Don’t do ANYTHING ’til David and I get there! We will be there Friday night.” The father says, “All right, all right, I’ll wait.”

When the father hangs up the phone he hollers to his wife, “okay, they’re coming for Passover. Now, what are we going to tell them for Rosh Hashanah?”

***

An old Jewish man is knocked over by a car on Golders Green Road. Crowds gather before a paramedic arrives and gently rests the old man’s head on his knee.

“Sir, are you comfortable?” asks the paramedic.

“I make a living,” the old man replies.

***

A minister, a priest and a rabbi die in a car crash. They go to heaven for orientation. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends, family and congregants are mourning over you, what would you like to hear them say?”

The minister says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader and a great family man.”

The priest says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful teacher and a servant of G-d who made a huge difference in people’s lives.”

The rabbi replies, “I would like to hear them say, ‘Look, he’s moving!'”