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Parasha Insights

HOW CAN YOU HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE?

Six retired Jewish Floridians are playing poker in the condo clubhouse when Meyer loses $5,000 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen friend, the other five continue playing, but standing up. At the end of the game, Finkelstein looks around and asks, "So, who's gonna tell his wife?" They cut the cards. Goldberg picks the low card and has to bear the news. They tell him to be discreet, gentle, not to make a bad situation worse. "Discreet? I'm the most discreet person you'll ever meet. Discretion is my middle name. Leave it to me."

Goldberg goes over to the Meyer's condo and knocks on the door. The wife answers through the door and asks… Read More »

IS YOUR FINGER ON THE PULSE?

"How did you get this big executive job?" asked the secretary. "You've only been here for three months." The young man shrugged modestly and explained, "I ran into my father and he took a liking to me."

The boss always scheduled a weekly staff meeting at four-thirty on Friday afternoons. When an employee got up the nerve to ask why, the boss explained, "I've found that late Friday afternoon is the only time none of you want to argue with me."

There is an obvious anomaly in a verse of our weekly portion Shoftim. “You shall come to the judge who will be in those days,” meaning in the time when are seeking guidance in your dilemmas of Jewish law. The words “who will be in… Read More »

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NEW HORIZON?

A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, "Make me one with everything."
The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it.
"After five minutes of silence, the Zen master asks: Excuse me, but where’s my change?"
The vendor responds, "Change must come from within."
This Shabbat in the portion of Reeh does the Torah warn the Jewish people against idolatry. Each time, the Torah follows up with a strange, identical term: You are in danger of following alien gods and idols, ones that you never heard of and never knew.
And then again: which you have never… Read More »

ARE YOU SCARED TO HEAR THE TRUTH?

A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom.


The little boy turned to his mother and said, "Mama, I don't want to go out there. It's dark."


The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. "You don't have to be afraid of the dark," she explained. "G-d is out there. He'll look after you and protect you."
 

The little boy looked at his mother real hard and asked, "Are you sure he's out there?"
 

"Yes, I'm sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him," she said.
 

The little boy thought about that for a minute and then went to the back door and cracked it a little.… Read More »

CAN YOU GO FORTH?

A young couple was called to heaven before they could be married. The disappointed groom asked G-d if it would still be possible for them to get married.

"I'm afraid you'll have to wait," G-d replied. If you still want to get married, we will talk about it."

Five years passed and the couple came back. They asked to be married again. G-d said, "Sorry, you'll have to wait five more years."

They waited another five years and G-d finally said they could be married. The wedding was beautiful and at first, the couple was happy, but then the problems began. They realized they made a mistake. They now asked G-d if they could get a divorce.

"What?" G-d asked. "It took us 10 years to find a Rabbi in… Read More »

HOW TO TURN CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY

A lonely frog, desperate for any form of company, telephoned the Psychic Hotline to find out what the future has in store for him.

His Personal Psychic Advisor advises him, "You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you."

The frog is thrilled and says, "This is great! Where will I meet her, at work? At a party?"

"No," says the psychic, "in a biology class."

Says the Talmud: Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiva went up to Jerusalem. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies. The others started weeping; Rabbi… Read More »

FATHER'S LOVE

Ben Cohen had been drinking at a pub all night. The bartender finally said that the bar was closing. So Ben stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time; same result. Ben figured he'll crawl outside and get some fresh air and maybe that would sober him up.

Once outside, Ben stood up but fell flat on his face again. So he decided to crawl the 4 blocks to his home. When he arrived at the door, Ben stood up and again fell flat on his face. He crawled through the door and into his bedroom. When he reached his bed Ben tried one more time to stand up. This time he managed to pull himself upright, but he quickly fell right into bed and fell sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

He was awakened the next… Read More »

Can Humans Be Objective?

A politician was sitting at his campaign headquarters when the phone rang. He listened intently, and after a moment his face brightened. When he hung up, he immediately phoned his mother to tell her the good news. "Ma," he shouted, "the results are in. I won the election!"

"Honestly?"

The politician's smiled faded. "Aw ma, why bring that up at a time like this?"

A government official was arrested for accepting a bribe from a contractor. A friend who went to visit him in the lock-up asked, "How are you going to get out of this mess?"

The official replied calmly, "I got into trouble for accepting a bribe; I will get out of it by giving it."

It is a puzzling story—the tale… Read More »

A CHAMPION OF ISRAEL

The devout cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a donkey walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth. The cowboy couldn't believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the donkey's mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, "It's a miracle!"

"Not really," said the donkey. "Your name is written inside the cover."

In this weeks Torah portion Balak. One aspect of the entire Bilaam story is mysterious. The donkey speaking is not the first or last miracle in the Torah. Yet all other miracles in the Tanach served a purpose, and the Torah clearly explains what that was. Ten plagues befall Egypt, to force Pharaoh and his nation to let the… Read More »

CUT AND PASTE

Once upon a time, a computer programmer drowned at sea. Many were on the beach and heard him cry out, “F1! F1!”, but no one understood.

Of course, the F1 key on the computer is the code for “help…”  

Customer: “I can’t seem to connect to the Internet.”

Tech Support: “Ah, right. What operating system are you running?”  

Customer: “Netscape.”

Tech Support: “No, what version of Windows are you using?”  

Customer: “Uhhh…Hewlett Packard?”

Tech Support: “No, Right click on ‘My Computer,’ and select properties on the menu.”

Customer: “Your computer? It’s my… Read More »

DON’T STOP SINGING!

Izzy is sitting in synagogue one Sabbath morning when he falls asleep and starts to snore. The synagogue caretaker quickly comes over to him, taps him softly on his shoulder and says, "Please stop your snoring, Izzy, you're disturbing the others in the shul."

"Now look here," says Izzy, "I always pay my membership in full, so I feel I have a right to do whatever I want."

"Yes, I agree," replies the caretaker, "but your snoring is keeping everybody else awake."

It is one of those strange Talmudic stories.

The weekly Torah portion of Korach tells of the mutiny staged by Korach and his many supporters against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. “The entire community is holy; why do… Read More »

HOW THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE?

Standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand, "Listen," said the CEO, "this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?"

"Certainly," said the young executive.

He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

"Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the Shredder machine. "I just need one copy."

It was perhaps the single greatest collective failure of leadership in this Torah portion Shlach. Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land. The men were leaders, princes of their tribes, people of distinction. Yet ten of them came back with a demoralizing… Read More »

DO YOU LIVE UP TO YOUR FULL POTENTIAL?

A man received a promotion to the position of Vice President of the company he worked for. The promotion went to his head, and for weeks on end, he bragged to anyone and everyone that he was now VP. His bragging came to an abrupt halt when his wife, so embarrassed by his behavior, said, “Listen, Bob, it’s not that big a deal. These days everyone’s a vice president. Why they even have a vice president of peas down at the supermarket!”

Somewhat deflated, Bob rang the local supermarket to find out if this was true. “Can I speak to the Vice President of peas please?” he asked, to which the reply came: “of fresh or frozen?”

Rabbi Rafael of Barshad summed up his life’s philosophy as… Read More »

IS EVERYONE LIKE AN ENTIRE WORLD?

A bereaved husband feeling his loss very keenly found it desirable to divert his mind by traveling abroad. Before his departure, however, he left orders for a tombstone with the inscription:


"The light of my life has gone out."


Travel brought unexpected and speedy relief, and before the time for his return he had taken another wife. It was then that he remembered the inscription, and thinking it would not be pleasing to his new wife, he wrote to the stone-cutter, asking that he exercise his ingenuity in adapting it to the new conditions. After his return he took his new wife to see the tombstone and found that the inscription had been made to read:


"The light of my life has gone out

But I have struck another… Read More »

A LIFE-CHANGING NIGHT

A farmer and his wife were sitting on a couch when a tornado came and swept them out of the house. There they were, flying through the air together on the couch when the wife began to cry.

The farmer said to her, “This is no time to cry! We need to think of ways to land safely!”

She replied, “I can't help it! I'm so happy because this is the first time we've been out together in twenty years.”

Sometimes it takes a crisis to make us ask, who am I? What kind of spouse am I? What kind of person am I? What have I done with my capacities? It is part of the beauty of Judaism that on Shavuot we are called on to ask just that question:

Who am I?

Shortly before the famous French Enlightenment philosopher… Read More »

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