web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



What I Leaned From Playing Poker

Lessons-Emunah-logo

As soon as Shabbos was over, I knocked on my neighbor’s door to inquire whether her husband had already recited Havdalah. No one was home. I tried another neighbor but there was no answer there either. So I made Havdalah myself, lit two candles, checked in with my mother-in-law (who waits for my Motzaei Shabbos call) and sped out the door. I was on my way to play Texas hold ‘em (kosher poker); it was advertised as a fundraiser for our shul.

Earlier that week, I brought the flyer advertising this event to my rabbi. “Is it okay to do this?” I asked. The flyer stated: “Gambling has been proven to be hazardous to your spiritual, mental and financial health.” He told me it wasn’t gambling. I think my rav wrote the warning on the flyer, but he nonetheless gave me the go-ahead to participate.

When I walked into my friend’s house, I saw about 10 women seated around a long oval table, with stacks of green, black, red and white chips on the table in front of each of them. Married, single, widowed (like me) or divorced, each of us has her own challenges. But that night, we were putting our problems aside. With a $100 donation to the shul, we were challenging each other in a game that most of us didn’t know how to play.

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them. One dealt each of us two cards and we bid chips based on the three-, then four- and finally the five-cards the dealer placed in the middle of the table. The cards in the middle benefited all of us and helped us make matches with our own two-cards. If we had two of a kind, we might win but only if no one had a higher two of a kind, or three of a kind, or a full house, or a straight or a flush.

I, like everyone else, could hardly believe I caught on so fast.

As we studied our cards, we ate salty, skinny popcorn, pickled tomatoes, and veggies in dips. We laughed at the thought that the men wouldn’t eat while playing poker.

Then a strange thing happened. Someone was winning and we were sure she would go to the finals. We cheered for her, but after a few hands someone else started winning. Another woman had sponsored her in memory of a friend, who we all thought would have signed up for this game. Again, we applauded. “I bet the men don’t clap for each other,” said one of the women, drawing a collective laugh. The same thing happened again and again, chips traveling from one person to the next. With each new win, everyone cheered.

Suddenly, I had the most chips. Someone mentioned that I got a berachah from the rabbi when I asked a shailah about coming that night. “You’ll have to ask another shailah as to whether you can be in the playoffs,” said the hostess, which caused another roar of laughter. In fact, I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time.

With stacks of $5,000, $1,000, $500 and $100 chips in front of me, my face felt flushed and my heart was beating fast. I could be the winner, I thought. Then gradually, game after game, I lost it all to someone who hadn’t won much the entire evening. She was the winner of a possible three-night stay in a kosher getaway. Beaming, she said, “I only came because they needed an extra.”

Whoever was still there at 1 a.m. was happy for her. But truth be told, we all wanted to win. And in a sense, we did. It was a night of camaraderie, laughter, and cheering each other on. One woman described it as “a different kind of evening.” And the woman who won the first round but then lost most of the others said, “It was worth the donation.” I agree, for it clarified something I was learning.

About the Author:


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 “What I Leaned From Playing Poker”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Port of Long Beach
ZIM Shanghai Unloads at Port of Long Beach, No BDS Problems
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from R.M. Gross
Lessons-Emunah-logo

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/what-i-leaned-from-playing-poker/2014/04/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: