Since so many of you enjoyed the story, “The Great America Novelist,” here’s another literary gem from my collection of fun and poignant short stories about the Jewish People in our time, Days of Mashiach.
I wrote the little fable in order to explain the first sentence of Rabbi Kook’s book, Orot, his classic treatise on the Redemption of Israel. The book begins: “Eretz Yisrael is not a peripheral matter, external to the inner essence of the Jewish Nation.” Rabbi Kook wants us to know that the Land of Israel isn’t just a nice place to visit, or merely a place to do extra mitzvot, but that it is an essential part of our lives, attached to us by an inner oneness, like a person’s mother or his wife. It’s not something you give away.
By the way, for readers who thought I was serious about going to LA – I was only kidding in order to make the point that, in our generation, a Jew has to do whatever he or she can to promote the rebuilding of Israel, and not only worry about his personal material pleasures. I’m actually driving to Beit El today to see how I can help out in the struggle to save the Ulpana neighborhood. I made a poster to hold up at demonstrations and I want to drop it off to the local troops who are faithfully trying to save the threatened buildings. Along the way, I’ll drop some posters off on the embattled settlement of Migron. Here’s the story. Let me know what you think.
Ehud was a happy man, truly content with his lot. He had a lovely wife, three lovely children, and a lovely house in a lovely community. He had a good job and good friends. He liked and respected all people, and all people liked and respected him. He was friendly, optimistic, and always tried to see the good side of things, believing that everything that happened in life was for the best. He did whatever he could to help people, and he avoided quarrels and fights, believing that peace was life’s most precious value. He was a smart man, an educated man, but humble, never thinking he was better than anyone else. He had his opinions, but he respected all points of view, except for the radical. He kept to the middle path in life and followed the rule, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” He wasn’t a religious man, practicing rituals and the like, but he lived a very moral, principled life.
One quiet evening, while Ehud was reading his newspaper, there was a knock on the door. A man stood outside. He was a tall man, a big man, with a nondescript face. He might have been a Gentile, or an Arab, or a Jew.
Ehud greeted him with a smile and a pleasant hello. The man seemed surprised that Ehud didn’t recognize him.
“The other day in town, I lent you twenty shekels,” he said.
Ehud didn’t remember. He thought and thought, but he couldn’t remember a thing. It wasn’t like him to forget, but the man seemed quite certain. It wouldn’t be polite to argue, Ehud thought. It was only twenty shekels. And apparently he had given the man his address. Ehud apologized for forgetting, gave the man twenty shekels, and said goodnight.
The very next night, he returned. The same man. He appeared at the door while Ehud’s wife, Tzipora, was cooking dinner in the kitchen.
“I came for my television,” the man said.
“Your television?” Ehud asked.
“The television set that I lent you,” the man said. “I want it back. My children don’t have a TV to watch.”
“What will my children watch?” Ehud asked.
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t my problem,” the man replied.
“But the television is mine,” Ehud protested. “I bought it, and I have a warranty to prove it too.”
Ehud walked to the cabinet where he kept all of his papers in alphabetically arranged files. But the television warranty wasn’t there. He searched through his old bank statements, phone bills and medical records, but the warranty was nowhere to be found. Embarrassed, he returned to the door.