web analytics
November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



The Wisest Men of Chelm: A Fable For Our Time

Following Rebbe Shimon

The villagers followed the lead of the
learned Rebbe Shimon. They gathered up
bundles of dry straw from neighboring shacks
and shanties. They tossed them onto the flames
of the fire in the barn. It seemed to work, for the
flames could no longer be seen below the
bundles of dry straw, merely smoldering smoke.

''Hurrah,'' shouted the bocherim from the
Rebbe Shimon's cheder. ''We have succeeded!
We must run to the shul and say the birkat
hagomel blessing at once.''

But before they took their leave, new
flames suddenly sprung up from the piles of
straw they had brought and tossed in to the
barn.

''Gevalt,'' moaned the learned Rebbe
Shimon. ''You see? We did not act quickly and
decisively enough. More straw!!''

''Are you entirely meshugana? Are you
completely shikkered ad lo yada?'' objected
Sheriff Arik. ''Did you not just see that your
idea failed? It just made the inferno worse! The
fire now is even more dangerous!''

''What do you know from fighting fires,
Mister Know-It-All,'' Rebbe Shimon asked
mockingly. ''You already admitted you do not
have a better solution, one that would work and
save the barn.''

So Rebbe Shimon ordered the villagers to
double their efforts. They quickly raced to
nearby homes and stables and brought out more
bundles of straw. They doubled their efforts and
redoubled the size of the straw piled into the
barn.

The flames disappeared beneath the new
fresh straw and Rebbe Shimon ordered a special
celebration, with kiddush wine from the shul's
pantry.

But before the bottles could be opened,
new flames shot up from the ruins of the barn
and the neighboring inn and cottages burst into
flames from the flying sparks.

''Faster, you lazy ones,'' screamed Rebbe
Shimon. ''You are not working hard enough to
bring straw. We need to try something new
now.''

But the villagers had grown angry and
restless and grumbled when Rebbe Shimon
walked down the cobble-stoned streets.

''Ok, I give up,'' said Rebbe Shimon. ''I
still believe my solution is the only one that can
work, but I am now stepping aside. It is time for
a new chief rabbi to carry the flame, if you
excuse the expression.''

Rebbe Shimon then nominated a student
and follower from his own yeshiva to take over
as chief rabbi.

Enter Rebbe Ehud

As the new chief rabbi and head of the
yeshiva previously led by Rebbe Shimon, Rebbe
Ehud ordered the villagers to take shibboleths
of straw and light their ends from the flames
and to toss them into alleys and buildings
several streets away from the barn.

''This will spread the heat around,
lowering the temperatures and will result in the
fire diminishing and cooling off. Trust me, I
understand the nature of fires and have a
longstanding close relationship with them.''

''A complete madman,'' groaned Arik the
Constable. ''Can't you see that everything you
and your deranged yeshiva friends did until now
just made things worse? Now you will create
even greater destruction!''

''Shah shtil,'' replied Rebbe Ehud. ''We
are still waiting to hear your solution for saving
the barn and putting out the fires.''

''But there is no solution,? Sheriff Arik
insisted. ''I explained this to Rebbe Shimon
before and I am repeating it to you. The only
thing to be done is to prevent the catastrophe
from growing larger.''

''Idiot,'' said the students of Rebbe Ehud,
agreeing with their master. ''Can't you see the
current situation is unbearable? The barn is
demolished and more buildings are now in
flames. We cannot simply sit back and tolerate
the intolerable.

?If you cannot offer a real solution, then
hold your tongue. If you don't shut up, we will
have you and your friends imprisoned by the
Cossacks for criminal incitement and sedition.''

New piles of straw were brought in now
from every part of the village and tossed upon
the flames, which leapt from rooftop to rooftop,
burning all of the unfortunate fiddlers and
chickens up there.

Fire crept toward the village square and
now threatened to burn the shul and the sacred
scrolls.

The villagers saw the damage and broke
into collective lamentation, as if it were the
Ninth Day of Av.

New Hope

Finally Rebbe Ehud was also forced to step
down from his revered post. But the yeshiva of
Rebbe Shimon and Rebbe Ehud was not about
to give up.

The yeshiva decided to replace Rebbe
Ehud with a new chief rabbi, a shifty character
who was serving as the moshgiach of the
northern quarter of the village, where he had
allowed a number of shochtim to get rich selling
non-kosher chickens in exchange for their
endorsements should he ever be considered for
the post of chief rabbi.

News of the appointment of the new chief
rabbi spread almost as quickly as the out-of-
control fire. The yeshiva of Rebbe Shimon and
Rebbe Ehud was filled with new hope and glee.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Wisest Men of Chelm: A Fable For Our Time”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry .
NYT Ignores US Condemnation of PA Incitement, Prints Info on Ferguson Cop
Latest Indepth Stories
Kessim (religious leaders) mark the opening of a synagogue in the village of Gomenge, Ethopia, one of five built in Gondar with JDC aid, 1988
Courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York.

In a world where people question whether they should be engaged, we are a reminder that all Jews are responsible for one another.

Greiff-112814-Levaya

My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem

The Jew’s crime is his presence.

Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible

Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
Looters in Ferguson wore masks to avoid being identified -- but the kafiyehs worn by some provided a clue to possible identities.

Those celebrating violence with “No Justice No Peace” signs are opposed to both justice and peace.

In this photo are seen the four main papers in Israel

The bill is the initiative of Knesset Member Eitan Cabel from what is left of the Israeli Labor Party.

The ostensible basis for the banning of Israel Hayom is that it is distributed for free.

Israel’s weenie gov’t refuses to pass law requiring instant execution of ALL terrorists at the scene

Conspiracism is a form of paranoid delusion taking over the entire lives&personalities of believers

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-wisest-men-of-chelm-a-fable-for-our-time/2003/02/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: