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    The rabbi’s lamp – Lech L’cha

    lanternMy teacher Dr Isidore Epstein was once the rabbi in an English provincial town.

    After his day’s work was done he sat in his study, learning Torah by the light of his lamp.

    People who passed by the house couldn’t make sense of why the rabbi had his light on so late at night and when someone said, “He must be studying Torah”, they said, “Then that’s not the rabbi for us. Who wants a rabbi who still hasn’t finished his studies? We want one who knows it all already!”

    A contrasting episode happened to Rabbi Joel Sirkes, known as the Bach, who was rabbi in an Eastern European town.

    He received such a small salary that he couldn’t afford oil for his lamp, so at night he sat in the dark reviewing his learning by heart. The congregants were disgusted to have a rabbi who apparently didn’t study at night so they dismissed him.

    He got a post in another town, but first he told the congregation something about this week’s sidra:

    “Why did God punish Sodom and Gomorrah? Because they had the wrong order of priorities – instead of increasing their own knowledge and observance, all they could do was to find fault with their leaders!”

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