Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rosh Hashanah: High Holiday Jews

The Dubner Maggid was not happy with the phenomenon of Jews who only attend synagogue during the High Holidays. Why are the synagogues half empty during the year, and jammed packed during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

He explained the problem with attending shul only on the High Holidays through the following parable:

The Merchant and the Beggar

Once a fire broke out and completely destroyed the warehouse of a prosperous merchant. Since the property was uninsured, overnight the merchant had lost his wealth. Even worse, he was deeply in debt to his main supplier, for the warehouse had housed thousands of dollars of goods that he had not paid for.

The merchant was distraught. How could he repay his debt? How could he rebuild his business?

A good friend suggested that he talk with his supplier. "Tell him what happened, and ask him to let you repay the debt slowly."

The merchant agreed with this advice. He immediately set off to meet with his supplier. But as soon as he entered the office, the once proud merchant was overcome with grief. All at once his bleak state of affairs hit him like a ton of bricks .He began to sob uncontrollably. "What have I come to? That I must come here and beg for favours!"

In the meantime, the supplier was surprised to hear a commotion in the outer office. He hurried out from his room and found the merchant crying bitterly. After hearing the whole story, the supplier comforted his friend. He promised the merchant that he would provide him with new stock on credit, and give him the time he would need to pay back his debts. He even loaned the merchant a fair sum of money so that he would be able to quickly get his business off the ground.

With tears of gratitude, the merchant thanked the supplier. At a tavern on the trip home, he recounted the man's great generosity.

There happened to be a beggar who overheard the tale of the supplier's generosity. The beggar decided to try his luck. He travelled to the supplier's office and cried about his poverty. The supplier listened to the poor man and gave him a small donation.

"Why such a small amount?" asked the pauper. "I heard that you helped a merchant who was just here with a very generous sum!"

"You compare yourself to that merchant?" asked the supplier. "I have been doing business with him for years. In fact, much of my wealth is due to our business dealings. But you? I have never seen you before! Why should I give you more than the customary handout?"