Home > Judaism, Rabbi Baruch Lederman > Being certain to take the right measure in Judaism

Being certain to take the right measure in Judaism

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–When Pharaoh met Yaakov for the first time, the first thing he asked him was, “How old are you,” which is sort of a  funny question to ask someone whom you just met. The Midrash
explains by filling in the back story: The entranceway to Pharaoh’s chamber had a very low arch. This forced all who entered to bow down in order to get through. By doing this they
would come out automatically bowing to Pharaoh as soon as they entered the chamber.

Yaakov, however, did not bow. He entered the room fully upright and a miracle happened – the doorway rose up so that he would be able to walk through unhindered. This miracle
happened just once before for one other great man. That man was Avraham himself. Avraham, the grandfather of Yaakov, traveled to Egypt years earlier. He too did not bow, and
the doorway miraculously raised its arch for him. Since Avraham and Yaakov had a strong family resemblance, Pharaoh thought that perhaps the man in front of him now, was
actually Avraham of old. Therefore he asked him his age to clarify the matter.

Yaakov would not compromise his faith one iota, no matter the circumstances or challenges that confronted him. Yaakov stood tall and upheld the words of the Torah. He didn’t
look for shortcuts; nor, did he try to manipulate the Torah Law to fit his personal needs.

There once was a shul that needed a new cover for their Sefer Torah. They decided to have a contest in which each woman would make a Sefer Torah cover and a panel of
judges would award the winner with the honor of having their masterpiece covering the Torah. For the next month, the women were designing, cutting, stitching, embroidering,
knitting, sewing and crocheting with excited frenzy.

Finally the big day arrived. First the families all gathered together to bid on the right to dedicate the new Torah cover, which was about to be selected. Thousands of dollars were
bid to obtain this great honor. Then, the covers were put on display for all to see. The room was filled with oohs and ahs, as the most exquisite displays of artistry and tapestry were
beheld by the amazed onlookers.

The panel of judges strode the room with official badges and serious looking clipboards. Their task was daunting, as every possible creative pattern, design and theme was
before them. Each and every entry was stunningly beautiful. Choosing a winner would be a staggering task. Finally after much tallying and deliberation, a winner was chosen.
Everyone gathered in the sanctuary to see as the winning cover was brought to the Rabbi who stood before the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). It was a gem. It was the most dazzling,
superb, elegant Torah cover anybody had ever seen.

With great pomp and flair, the president of the congregation removed the Torah from the Ark and the Rabbi himself placed the new cover on the Torah. What happened next, filled
the room with horror. A loud collective gasp emitted from the crowd. The worshippers could not believe what they saw.  The Cover was placed over the Torah but it was too short. It
would not cover the whole Torah. There was pandemonium. They didn’t know what to do. The Rabbi, the president, the board and the judges conferred for several tense
moments. Soon it became clear that they were going to be forced to choose another cover.

At that point the woman who made the winning cover yelled out, “Cut the Torah. Cut the Torah.”

This something that each of us does in varying ways and measures. We try to adapt the Torah to fit our lifestyles, rather than adapt our lives to the Torah.

Dedicated by Bernie & Jackie Dimont in memory of his bubbe; Esther Machla bas Leah.

*
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

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  1. jackie anne shepard
    July 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    SHALOM! IKEPT YOUR WEB SITE WHICH I FOUND WHEN I FOUND AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE BRANCH OF HADASSA NAMED AFTER MY GRANDMOTHER,BIRDIE STODEL. I HAVE ENDED UP STUCK IN THE TINY TOWN OF COARSEGOLD ,CAL., NORNTH OF FRESNO, SOUTH OF YOUSEMITE. I NEVER CAN AFFORD TO DRIVE TO SERVICES. JUST READING YOUR MESSAGES MADE ME FEEL CONNECTED TO MY ROOTS. I WILL KEEP READING, AND I WANTED YOU TO KNOW HOW MUCH I ENJOY YOUR WRITINGS. TAKE CARE, AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE YOUR MESSAGES WILL REACH! GOOD HEALTH,JACKIE SHEPARD

    • July 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      Glad to have you reading us. The Birdie Stodel B’nai B’rith was a very active chapter in San Diego, and it’s niice to have the connection with you. If ever you would like to pen a personal remembrance of your grandmother, we’d love to publish it.

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