Thursday, November 05, 2009

My Zaida was a rabbi

A very religious Jew traveling through Europe stopped overnight at a B&B. He noticed a mezuzah on the door and wondered if he could rely on the kosher standard of the institution. He approached the bare-headed owner, who was manning the front desk and asked if he served kosher food.

“Look there,” the proprietor announced, indicating an aging photo of a man with a tangled white beard, “That was my father! Surely, you can rely on the kashrut of my food!”

The guest smiled slightly and replied: “If this was your father’s establishment and he had a photo of you hanging on the wall, I’d feel more comfortable eating here.”

Jews love to tell you about their pedigree, how frum their father or grandfather was or how their grandmother chaired the ladies’ guild back in the “old country”. “Oh, you’re a Hurwitz, are you related to the famous Kabbalist Rabbi Horowitz?” (When I introduce myself, I usually: “Is that a Jewish surname? I’ve never heard of it before...”)

Rabbi Dovber, the successor to the Ba’al Shem Tov, watched his house burn down when he was a young boy. His mother was devastated and he tried to console her, arguing that valuables are replaceable. But, she explained that her family tree, tracing their pedigree to King David had gone up in flames and could never be recovered. Little Dovber grinned and assured her that he would make sure to start a new famous family tree.

It’s each man for himself in Judaism. You can’t ride on the achievements of your parents, nor can you blame your failings on theirs.

Avraham’s father was an idolator, yet he became the father of monotheism. Rivkah’s family were crooks, yet she became one of the most pious people ever. Even Moshiach’s lineage is embarrassing. His original ancestors include Moab, a child born from the incest of Lot and his daughter.

Don’t tell us who you parents were; show us who you are.

1 comment:

carl auböck architekt said...

great and true words in a difficult world-
thank you from vienna!