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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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Chaim (not his real name) was walking down the street, feeling very discouraged. It seemed that lately, the news was filled with stories depicting the disparities, distrust and dislike between the different streams of Jews living in Israel. Much of it revolved around the different religious affiliations or non-affiliations that people adhered to. There were times when Chaim felt the situation was hopeless, with no way to bring people together as a cohesive group – despite their differences.

Suddenly something caught Chaim’s attention, giving him hope for the future.

He was passing by an area where cars were densely parked along both sides of the street. In the distance, he saw a policeman checking the status of the parked cars.

Some people used a small computerized parking device that was pre-set to pay for the period of time their car would be parked there. Others simply placed coins inside the nearby parking meters. When neither method was used, or if the time period paid for parking had elapsed, the policeman whipped out his pad of parking tickets, wrote up the car’s details, and placed a ticket against the windshield where the unlucky car owner would find it upon his return.

Out of the corner of his eye, Chaim saw a blur of black. An older man, dressed in chassidic garb, was jingling a handful of coins. He stopped at the cars furthest away from the policeman, and checked each one. When he found a car that would soon be receiving a parking ticket, he quickly fed some coins into the nearby parking meter to ensure that the car was still legally parked.

In this fashion, he kept walking toward the busy policeman.

The policeman, a non-religious Jew, smiled at the older man. Suddenly he called out to the chassid. “Here! Quickly!” The two men now worked in tandem, trying to see to it that no car owner would return to a ticketed car.

Chaim, with a knitted kippah on his head, felt a surge of hope. Perhaps both men were very different, like two sides of a coin, but they also had many things that tied them together – because underneath it all, they were two sides of the same coin.

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Chaim (not his real name) was walking down the street, feeling very discouraged. It seemed that lately, the news was filled with stories depicting the disparities, distrust and dislike between the different streams of Jews living in Israel. Much of it revolved around the different religious affiliations or non-affiliations that people adhered to. There were times when Chaim felt the situation was hopeless, with no way to bring people together as a cohesive group – despite their differences.

Like many religious Jews, our bookshelves contain a variety of sefarim. Among the sifrei Mishnah, the Gemara, the Chumashim, among others, there is one sefer that has special meaning to my family and me.

The rav was not a wealthy man, but earned enough to live comfortably. He earned his money by serving as the rav of a religious community in Yerushalayim. He also received some royalties from sefarim he had written over the years. He was well known, and many people approached him for a berachah, advice and help. They were not turned away.

Like many children, some of my grandchildren tended to rush through the berachot they recited each day. Somehow, the first few words were inclined to run together. The last few words often got swallowed up, especially those that were part of berachot made before eating something they really liked.

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