For the week ending 12 October 2013 / 8 Heshvan 5774

Pinchas Toshner

by Daniel Keebler
Library Library Library

London, U.K. – Age: 44
Mechina Program

The Grandest Piano

“Eight times out of 10 and I can do any request, that’s the thing that gets people the most,” explains marvel pianist Pinchas Toshner. Since Pinchas returned to the U.K.from Ohr Somayach he was stuck in dead-end piano jobs, playing for 5 pounds($7.70) an hour, including at McDonald’s. Suddenly, Pinchas was given the opportunity to perform in a massive music show with worldwide musical superstars, and for good pay. Yet the show was scheduled for the first day of Succot, when such a performance is not permitted in Judaism.

Pinchas frantically called a whole list of his rabbis in hope of finding a leniency in Jewish law that might allow him to perform. Yet no such leniency was found and Pinchas faithfully watched his gateway to success float away. “I was doing the right thing but wasn’t happy about it,” recounts Pinchas, having played piano at McDonald’s and Burger King for the past year at the time.

Seconds after Pinchas chose Jewish observance over career opportunity, an appointment with a sponsor landed in his lap. In that appointment Pinchas walked away with a check for three times the amount he would have earned for the show on Succot, plus a commitment for future help with his artistic career.

Pinchas then went to play piano for free at a shopping center which hosts a beautiful grand piano. Out of nowhere a billionaire businessman walked up to him and said, “Meet me at Hyde Park Hotel at 5 pm.” When Pinchas showed up to the luxury hotel the billionaire asked him two questions: “What kind of piano would you like?” and “How much money do you want?” Just like that, Pinchas went from fast-food piano gigs to featured entertainment at a luxury hotel with a sponsor for his album. “And it all started from doing the right thing at Succot,” says Pinchas.

According to Pinchas, what really makes a person happy is doing the right thing. But knowing what, when, and why it’s right requires spiritual guidance. Pinchas says he is grateful to be connected to his rabbis for such guidance, especially Rabbi Schiller.

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