Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Well Do You Know the Sheppard?

Baruch Hashem, R' Boruch Leff, a mechanech in Baltimore and writer for Yated,, and other publications has given me permission to post a series of pieces which quote my rebbe, Rav Moshe Weinberger, from his book Are You Growing?, which is available on Aish's website at a 40% discount here. He asked me to point out that these pieces were not written by Rav Weinberger himself, but represent R' Leff's understanding of things Rav Weinberger said in various shiurim. Enjoy!
Rav Moshe Weinberger, shlita, tells the story of a British poetry reading contest gathering where contestants would read apiece of poetry of their choice and then submit to an evaluation from the listening audience. Throughout the evening, tens of contestants stood up and read their poems in the most dramatic and highly sophisticated and refined Queen’s English accent that they could muster. The final contestant, a young man in his twenties, put on a tremendous show, demonstrating great emotion and passion as he chose Psalm 23 for his reading, the perek we know of as MizmorL’Dovid Hashem Ro’ee Lo Echsar—Hashem is My Shepherd, I do not lack anything.
The audience was extremely moved, more than it had been the entire night, as the charming young man read the beautiful paragraph written by Dovid HaMelech. It was clear to all who the winner of the poetry reading was to be. Even the many other poetry readers that evening knew they were masterfully outdone.
But just asthe wonderful event was drawing to a close, an old European Jewish man with a heavy Yiddish accent raised his hand and asked for a chance to take part as a contestant in the poetry reading contest, requesting to also read Mizmor L’Dovid Hashem Ro’ee Lo Echsar.
The chairman of the evening did not know how to react; the scene and the request seemed so comical. How in the world did this old Jew who spoke broken English think he could impress a classy British audience? The chairman did not know whether to laugh or shriek at the man for displaying such foolishness in front of such a refined listening group.
After a few minutes, with the crowd murmuring, the chairman composed himself and finally said, “Of course, you may enter into the reading contest. We allow all those present to attempt a reading if they so desire.” The chairman figured that hearing the old man make a fool out of himself would add a touch of comedy and be a nice way to end the evening.
The oldEuropean Jewish man with the Yiddish accent got up in front of the gathering and began to slowly recite the pasukim in the best English he could provide. “Hashem is My Shepherd, I do not lack anything . . .” The old man read the words with such emotion and meaning—hispassions and intensity were palpable. “In lush meadows He lays me down. . .” The British smiles and yearnings for laughter transformed quickly to eager and fixated listeners, hanging on every word. “He restores my soul. . . Though I walk in the valley of death, I will not fear because You are with me. . .”

By the time the man completed his reading, many in the audience were moved to tears—and anew poetry reading champion was crowned—but shockingly, it was not the young man in his twenties. No, the old European Jewish man with the Yiddish accent was the British poetry reading winner!
The young man in his twenties was crushed. He had worked and practiced so long for this event. He knew he did an excellent job with his reading and thought he had won handily—and he was about to win—until this mysterious old man ‘stole’ the award right out of his hands. Despite his disappointment, the young man was one to find a way to learn and improve his skills if he could. He ran up to the old man and new poetry champion and asked,“What was it? How did you manage to outdo my performance?”
The old man smiled and said, “You did a masterful job. Your reading was clear, impeccable and dramatic. The only advantage that I have over you is that I know the Shepherd! He’s my Father. He’s my Friend. I know the Shepherd very well.”
Do we know the Shepherd? Do we even want to know the Shepherd? Do we even want[1] to want to know the Shepherd?

If we want to know the Shepherd we have to relate and talk to Him throughout the day.
[1] Rav Weinberger quotes Torah sources which say that ‘wanting to want’ until ten times, i.e. wanting to want to want to want, etc. is still considered sincere.
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1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

This happens to be a great story. I've told it to several non-frum relatives and friends.