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Friday, 28 August, 2015 - 12:44 pm

Jack Silverberg who lives in a little shtetl in England goes to consult a world-famous specialist in NY about his heart condition.

"So, doctor, what do I owe you?"

"My fee is $10,000," replies the physician.

"10,000? But that's impossible!?"

"OK, then -- in your case," the doctor replies, "I suppose I could adjust my fee to $8,000."

"8k for one visit!? Absurd! You are meshugah! What do you need all this money for anyhow?"

"Alright, then, can you afford 7k?"

"Who even has that kind of money for one doctor consultation?"

""Look," says the doctor, becoming quite irritated, "Just give me 5k and get out of here."

"I can give you 500 dollars," says Silverberg. “Not a penny more. 500 dollars is reasonable. Take it or leave it!"

"I don't understand you," says the doctor, frustrated, angry and annoyed. "Why did you shlep all the way from Britain to the most expensive doctor in all of the US? You knew how expensive I am! If you don’t have the money, why did you come to me?!"

"Listen, Doctor," Silverberg explains. "When it comes to my health, nothing is too expensive!"

Does it ever feel that we fall into this trap with our children’s education? I will ensure, despite the stress and financial burden, that my children keep up with their ballet lessons, violin lessons, kickboxing lessons, martial arts lessons, dance lessons, swimming lessons, art lessons, and another half-dozen extracurricular activities. When it comes to Judaism, I am content that my child should remain with a first-grader’s knowledge of the Divine blueprint for life! I am often capable of ignoring that which he needs for his inner core, for his soul and spirit to be happy, nourished, and wholesome. I need to reflect and ponder, am I teaching  him  only how to make a living or how to truly live?  Am I giving  him the unshakable inner dignity that comes from a relationship with their souls and with G-d.

In this week's Torah reading, Ki Teitzei, the Torah says You shall not have in your pouch, one stone weight and another stone weight, one large and one small. You shall have a full and honest stone weight, in order that your days will be prolonged on the land which the Lord, your G-d, gives you. For whoever perpetrates such injustice, is an abomination to the Lord, your G-d.

The ruse is simple: The seller  of the goods in question keeps two measurements that are slightly off, in either direction.

There's a story they tell about the town's milkman and baker:

One early morning, the milkman is bewildered to find a court summons hanging on his door. He was an honest man who always behaved as such. He never cheated, lied or stole anything. He had no idea why he was summoned to court. But the baker knew.

The baker used to buy butter and cheese from the milkman for his business. One day he suspected that the lumps of butter that the milkman sold him were under five pounds - even though the milkman insisted that each was exactly five pounds. The baker decided to check out the matter and for a period he consistently weighed every lump of butter that he bought from the milkman. He discovered that they were in fact less than five pounds. Sometimes they were four pounds, sometimes they were four-and-a-half pounds, and once one was even three pounds.

 The baker was angry. "Cheating me!" he told his wife angrily, "I am not going to be quiet about it." He went to the local court and complained about the milkman. "We have to prosecute him," said the baker.  "We can't let him cheat all the villagers.  People trust this crook!"

 Later that day, the court messenger hung a notice on the milkman's house inviting him to court. The milkman arrived at the court shaking with fear. He had never been to a courthouse and had never spoken to a Judge. The Judge evoked a sense of fear amongst the villagers.

 "I assume you have a very accurate scale in your dairy," said the Judge to the milkman.

"No your honor, I do not have a scale," said the milkman.

"So how do you weigh the butter? Do you just guess that it is ten pounds?"

"No G-d forbid, your honor; I am an honest man; it never occurred to me to do something like that. Very simply I built myself a scale—the kind that needs a weight on one side to balance the butter on the other."

The Judge nodded his head, and the milkman continued. "Every morning when I come to weigh the butter for the baker, I place five pounds of bread on one side of the scale. This way I know that the butter that I will give to the baker will be exactly five pounds."

"So," says the Judge, "you're telling us that the amount of butter that you give the baker is exactly the weight of the loaf of bread he supplies to you?"

"That is exactly it!" exclaimed the milkman."

The baker's face fell. You see, the baker’s scale was dishonest; the five pounds of bread he was weighing each morning to give to the milkman were not truly five pounds. And that is exactly what came back to him… What we dish  out to people is what comes back to us.

Let's  be honest with ourselves.  Am I spending  the same time and energy on connecting with the infinite wisdom of the Torah as I am , figuring out the stability of my stock portfolio?  Do  I give the same attention to the prayers I say when I communicate with G-d as "urgent" as the beep telling me someone just messaged me on my smartphone?  Is the deeper life, the life of the spirit, any less important?  After all, my physical existence is temporary, my financial status is external; it is my soul that is eternal, and it is my soul which gives life and personality to my body. Yes, the newest iPhone is a must, but my tefillin? I’ve got my grandfather’s pair! When it comes to the iPhone I will not, be discovered holding my  grandfather’s phone, so why are Tefillin any  different?

How consistent is my behavior? Do I confer the same importance to G-d as I do to my job? Do I think about the One who created me for a purpose and has given me the very gift of life as much as I think about my social status? The issue of the unequal weights is about my own integrity.  Am I a genuine person? The Torah is teaching us we must avoid the double standard. Deception is not only  cheating  your insurance company.  It begins deep inside, at the moment when  I fool myself into thinking that I am not a spiritual prince, a child of G-d, who in turn is a spark of holiness. Yes, you are holy!!! Now, you need to be  true to yourself and to your destiny .  This is done by nurturing your soul and your relationship to G-d.

What is the first step of this journey?  Today, even before summer fades away , tell yourself that you  refuse to have double standards regarding your own Yiddishkeit! When we dare to stand proud and believe in ourselves and in G-d, the world listens and respects our honesty.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky


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