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Chapter 22: The Greatest Joke There Is

One small boy - must have been Jewish - was going to the synagogue. His mother had given him two small coins, one for himself and one to be offered to God in the synagogue. On the way he was playing with the coins, and one coin slipped from his hand, went into a hole. The boy stood there, looked at the sky and said, “So take your coin! Here goes your coin, God! You are omnipotent, so you can find it from everywhere. It will be a little difficult for me.”

Just a small boy - but he finds a way out of the problem. This quality is Jewishness.

Ibrahim Silberstein, a rich merchant, invites all his friends to a party to celebrate his twenty-five years of marriage.

On his invitation card is written, “The presents of the guests who cannot visit us on this occasion will be returned.”

One of his clients, Zacharia, after receiving the invitation, borrows a magnificent silver chandelier from the jewelry shop and tells his wife, Esther, “I have got a great idea, dear! We will send this chandelier as a present to the Silbersteins, but we won’t visit them, so it won’t cost us anything as they will return it back to us!”

Zacharia sends the chandelier and patiently waits for the return of the present. One week goes by, then two, then three: no sign of the chandelier. Very nervous, Zacharia finally decides to go and see the Silbersteins. Silberstein warmly greets his generous friend, “Ah, finally, there you are! I knew you were coming. Just this morning I was saying to my dear wife, Rebecca, ‘If my old friend Zacharia does not come today, ah well, too bad, tomorrow we will have to send the chandelier back to him!’”

This quality, wherever it is found, is Jewishness.

If you try to watch your own mind you will find a Jew hidden there. Whenever you calculate and whenever you start living mathematically, whenever your life becomes just a business, just a logic; whenever you lose love, whenever you lose the quality to share, to risk, to gamble; whenever you lose the quality of giving wholeheartedly for the sheer joy of giving, beware of the Jew within.

But the Jew is very difficult to destroy, because it pays you. It helps you to succeed in the world, it helps you to become famous in the world, it offers you the whole world. If you are really calculative, the whole world is yours. The temptation is great. If you are tempted by the world and all that it can offer, you cannot get rid of the inner Jew.