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    Sweaters & sandwiches – Va’era

    The sidrot at this time of year focus on the Divine call to Moses that changed the whole of human history.

    Pinhas Peli tells the story of a student who sought admission into the s’michah program of a rabbinic seminary. Faced with a bench of Talmudic scholars the student wanted to show what g’maras he had learnt and how he would fit into the seminary.

    Trying to be friendly, one of the examining panel, Abraham Joshua Heschel, asked a simple practical question: “If you were on a desert island, what would you like to have with you?”

    The student spoke about his siddur, tallit and tefillin, Mishnayot, and various Talmudical tractates.

    Heschel said quietly, “Very nice, young man, but I have a better answer. What would I want on a desert island? Sandwiches and a sweater!”

    Living in the heavenly clouds is not unimportant, but neither are the practical necessities for life on earth.

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