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Do We Need a Rabbi?
Decisions used to be made by asking the rabbi. However, at the turn of the century, the wise men and women of Chelm heard that rabbis wanted to be paid. Yankel heard this and protested, 'Why should we pay anybody to make decisions? We are wise. Before Rabbi Fishel came, we made decisions. Decision making is our tradition. It's in our blood.' Before more anti-Semitic rhetoric and libels against Jews were declared, Mendel responded, 'But once Rabbi Fishel came, he was making decisions.' And Bayla said, 'You fool.' Sarah Shaindel heard this and acquiesced, 'That’s how we should do it. We will make decisions.' To which all the wise men and women agreed, 'We just made a decision.' And none of it had to do with Torah.
Bayla questioned, 'Should we not ask a rabbi?' Berel the Gabai was taken aback by this question, as were the other wise men and women. 'Are we allowed to make the decision to have a rabbi or not? Should we not ask the rabbi?' So, the wise men and women sat on it for forty days and forty nights, till the rabbi's salary was up for renewal.
Sarah Shaindel climbed the mountain to meditate. It was summer and she wanted to go on a hike. There's a mountain right on the outskirts of town and it's got great scenery.
Over the course of forty days many questions arose in Chelm, such as, 'Do we have to keep Shabbat every week?' Great debate was had, as Shabbat is the day of rest and many people were getting tired due to all of the cooking and preparation they had to do for it. Sarah Shaindel came back and people were expecting an answer. She said, ‘I have nothing, and we are wise.’
Mendel came in, as the fool always does, and said that only a rabbi can answer these questions. The wise men and women retorted, 'You fool. We answer questions all the time.' To which Mendel said, 'Not correctly.' To which the wise men and women said, 'You are correct.' But questions arose as to whether or not that was the right answer.
After forty more days, the question still remained. And Mendel exclaimed, 'Only a rabbi can answer that question.' So, they rehired Rabbi Fishel to answer the question. How they first rehired Rabbi Fishel is a debate to this day, as that was a decision the rabbi had to make.
Rabbi Fishel's contract was up every year, as they were still not sure if the decision to hire a rabbi was a decision that they were allowed to make. It is possible that only a rabbi can make that decision.
At this point of decision making, the wise men and women realized how wise this new generation of wise men and women of Chelm are. And so it was. They decided that they needed a new rabbi to field all their questions, and they decided that they, the wise men and women, would answer them. And that is how the board was formed.
What is a Board?
Decisions had to be made. This new way of Jewish community establishment forced the shul to be taken over by community members and fundraisers. After much talk, it was decided that smart people do fundraisers, because people wear suits during the week to them. Not knowing what a fundraiser was, or how to pay the rabbi, somebody told them they must create a board.
The wise men and women exclaimed the brilliance of this idea of the board.
'What is a board?' asked Sarah Shaindel. Yankel, who had spent time at university and Yeshiva in Israel guided, 'A board is people who meet to make decisions.' 'But every one of us has made decisions, ever since Chelm was founded back before I was born,' added Duvidel. Berel, the Gabai and sexton, decided, 'Well. We have our answer. We will all be on the board.' And thus, the new generation of Chelm's board assembled. And all of the people of Chelm were on the board. And no decisions were made.
They tried to figure out who the president should be, so they asked, 'Who hates the rabbi?'
And the question arose, 'We are wise. Why do we need a board?' To which Berel the Gabai answered, 'To have meetings.' And Fayge responded, 'Our Gabai is so wise.'
How Do We Make Decisions?
There was no answer to that question.
The board met weekly to discuss and resolves issues. And they discussed for hours, in what was called a meeting. And everybody shared their opinions. And they met weekly to discuss and resolve issues. And they continued to meet weekly, and they discussed. The same questions every week. And for years nothing was resolved. And no decisions were made as to the fundraiser. And Yankel said, 'We have a board.'
So they sat in more meetings. And Bayla said, 'These meetings are very important. All board members must show to the meetings.' And all of Chelm showed to the meetings, and no decisions were made.
Many people wanted to leave the board once their tenure in office was up. The board told the people that they are still on the board. To quote, 'You are still citizens of Chelm. You are wise. You should also share your opinion on everything.' And so, everybody remained on the board, even when they had no position, and shared their opinion.
Meetings took days, as everybody said their opinion is important.
There were thousands of secretary positions. Secretary of greenery. Secretary of greetings. Secretary of people. Secretary of homes. The list includes, secretary of books. I believe that was the librarian. They changed jobs into secretary positions. Secretary of convenience was the guy with the bodega. The youth director holds the chair as secretary of children.
Now, everybody in Chelm is important, and the rabbi cannot tell them what to do.
The rabbi once thought to make a decision, after much discussion of the wise men and women. The decision was then made to tell the rabbi to not talk.
To this day, the only decision made is to have a rabbi, and the wise men and women of Chelm regret that.
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My kids take after me. Due to Kibud Av vEim, they always let me take first.
You get it? ‘Take after me' means to be like their dad. Instead, they let their dad fill his plate first, as per the Mitzvah to honor parents. Very good kids. If we can have a positive influence on the next generation with our puns, that is the blessing.
Giving Tzedakah, I like to know where the charity is going. That charity box in the front is for kids who need help with their artwork.