Simcha's Torah Stories - Nitzavim

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Parshas Nitzavim

WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

What a wonderful boat ride, Avi. Smell the salt air. Look at the beautiful view. The gentle ocean breeze and the rocking of the boat are so calming.

Chaim, I'm glad you told me about this. It was a great idea. It's so quiet out here.

Suddenly the noise of an electric power tool shatters the calm. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

What's that noise, Avi?

I don't know Chaim. It sounded like an electric drill or saw.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

There it is again. It's coming from over there. Farther back on the boat. Let's go see what it is.

The two boys go back to investigate and see a very strange sight. Crouching under one of the seats is a man holding a power drill. He is drilling a hole under his seat through the bottom of the boat.

Avi, can you believe it? That man is drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat! This whole boat will sink and we'll have to swim back to shore. This is dangerous business. We had better tell the Captain.

Wait a minute, Chaim. Let's talk to the man first. He probably doesn't realize what he is doing. When we tell him, I'm sure he will stop. Excuse me sir.

Yes. What do you want?

I'm sorry to disturb you. I just wanted to point something out to you. You probably don't realize that if you continue drilling like that, you will put a hole in the bottom of the boat.

Listen young man. I know exactly what I am doing. What I do under my own seat is of no concern to you. I paid full fare for this seat and it is mine for the duration of this trip. You have no right to tell me what I can or cannot do under my seat. Now leave me alone.

You're right Avi, let's go to the Captain.

The boys run to the Captain and report the man. His drilling is stopped before he can put a hole in the boat.

Boys, we don't know how to thank you. You saved the whole boat. I'm going to see to it that you get free passes on this boat ride whenever you want. We owe you a real debt of gratitude. That man was very strange. How could he think that because he bought a seat, he has the right to drill a hole under it? Didn't he feel any connection or responsibility to the other passengers?

Mr. Captain, sir. It's funny you should bring that up. We were just learning about that in school this week.

Really? What class teaches you about boat passengers?

Our class on the weekly Torah portion. Three thousand five hundred years ago, our ancestors were about to enter the Land of Israel. One of the last things they did before entering the land was to form a pact pledging mutual responsibility to one another. Every Jew became responsible for every member of the Jewish people. The deeds of each person, would affect all of the others.

What does that have to do with the boat passengers?

To put it figuratively, since that time the Jewish people have all been in the same boat together. When one of us does something good, we all benefit. On the other hand, if any one of us does something wrong, we all suffer. If any member of our nation violates the Sabbath or eats non-kosher food, he is not only hurting himself, he is hurting the Jewish people as a whole. He might think that observing the mitzvos are his own private business. They are not. They are everyone's business. Just like the man on the boat. We would all suffer from his foolish deed.

Boys, I truly admire you and your people. Communal responsibility is a very important thing. People who bind together can accomplish great things. Much more than separate individuals.

Mr. Captain, sir, we have accomplished great things. The next time we take this boat ride, we can tell you all about our amazing 3500 year history.

Boys, it will be my pleasure. You can sit up in the main cabin with me. People who took the responsibility to save the boat deserve the best seats. I want to hear all about the 3500 year boat-ride of the Jewish people.


Simcha's Quiz

A certain family party consisted of one grandfather, one grandmother, two fathers, two mothers, four children, three grandchildren, one brother, two sisters, two sons, two daughters, one father-in-law, one mother-in-law, and one daughter-in-law. A total of 23 people, you might think. But, no! There were only ?????? how many people? And how?


Answer to Last Week's Question

You bought a ten-gallon hat as a souvenir of a visit to Texas. When you got home, you discovered that the label states it to be only a six-gallon hat. By now, you were skeptical that it was even that big, and you decided to test it by trying to fill it with six gallons of water. The only containers you had on hand were those below. Using them, how were you able to pour six gallons into the hat?

Container A: 9 gallons. Container B: 4 gallons.

The Answer!

The key is to reduce the content of container A to 6 gallons.

This can be achieved as follows:

  1. Fill A
  2. Pour 4 gallons into B
  3. 5 gallons remain in A
  4. Empty B
  5. Refill B from A-this leaves 1 gallon in A
  6. Empty B and put the 1 gallon from A into B
  7. Refill A
  8. Fill B from A. This will take 3 gallons, leaving 6 in A


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