What do you think would be better — to go back in time or to see the future?
Andy Hampstead, Canada
To quote a favorite saying we heard from a good friend, a Holocaust survivor, Reb Efraim (Fred) Englard of blessed memory:
“Yesterday is history.
“Tomorrow is a mystery.
“Today is a gift.
“And that’s why they call it ‘the present.’”
What is your definition of chutzpah?
Coming to your therapist because of a split personality and asking for a group discount.
Thanks for inviting me to your class last week. I was the one with all the questions. I noticed you kept saying Baruch HaShem (thank G-d) when people asked you about your health, your family, or almost anything. Why is it so important to answer this way?
Gila, via e-mail
You are — Baruch HaShem — asking an excellent question. The great chassidic master known as the Baal Shem Tov, would ask people he met during the course of his travels, how they were doing. He taught them the importance of recognizing that our health, income and our entire well being is due to the blessings of HaShem. This is really what saying “Baruch HaShem” is all about.
Have you heard the story of an American Jew who visited Russia years ago and is asked about life in America?
“Thank G-d, he replies,” life is good.
“And how is life in the Soviet Union?”
“Here,” replies the Russian, “life is good, but here we don’t say ‘Thank G-d.’”
“Really?” asks the American. “ So, what do you say?”
“Here we say, ‘Thank Brezhnev.’”
“Really! And tell me, what will you say when Brezhnev is gone?”
“Then we will say, ‘Thank G-d!’”
In one word, what is the most valuable character trait to possess? I am looking for a truthful answer.
Dr. Fishels, Toronto
Dear Dr. Fishels,
The answer lies in your question.
Consider the following:
Once, in a small country, there was a beloved emperor who was growing old and knew it was approaching the time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or one of his own children, he decided to do something different.
One day, he called all the young people in the kingdom together and said, “I have decided to choose one of you as emperor.”
The kids were shocked.
The emperor continued, “I am going to give each one of you a seed. One seed. A very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown with this one seed. I will then judge your plants and choose the next emperor. “
There was one boy named Avi who excitedly took his seed home. But nothing seemed to work. He kept checking his seed, but nothing grew. Avi felt like a failure.
A year went by. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but Avi had nothing.
Avi told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go and be honest about it. Avi was hesitant, but knew his mother was right.
When Avi arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. He put his empty pot on the floor and heard some of the youths laugh at the sight, while others told him, “Hey, nice try.”
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed all the plants and spotted Avi in the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered him to come to the front.
The emperor looked at Avi and announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Avi!”
Avi couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, “One year ago to the day, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it and bring it back to me today. but I gave you boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you — except for Avi — brought me trees and plants and flowers.
“When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you.
“Avi was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new leader!”
Truth is the most valuable commodity in life.
Because it is reality.
It is real.
SEND your questions to [email protected] to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News