Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Teachers! and the Rabbi who gave back the money--ask yourself--would you?

Soften Criticism

If someone is critical of you in a harsh tone of voice, try telling them the following:
"I appreciate your strong feelings about the matter, but I would appreciate the comments more if they were expressed more pleasantly."
Love Yehuda Lave

Subject: Teachers!
After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

Let me see if I've got this right.  You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language by letter, telephone, newsletter and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me --  I CAN'T PRAY?

The $98,000 Rabbi

A Kiddush Hashem in New Haven reveals the power of living Jewishly.

by Rea Bochner

In the age of Craigslist, it's not unusual to find household goods for a bargain. But for New Haven, Connecticut Rabbi Noah Muroff, an office desk he bought through the website for $200 turned out to be an investment with incredible dividends.
Returning home with his purchase, Muroff and his wife found that the desk would not fit through the office door by "a fraction of an inch". When they took it apart, they discovered a bag containing the previous owner's inheritance, to the tune of $98,000.
Muroff, a teacher at the Yeshiva of New Haven, told news station WTNH, "Right away, my wife and I sort of looked at each other, and we said, 'We can't keep this money.'" When they called the original owner to return the bag, she was stunned beyond speech; she had hidden the money in the desk and couldn't find it once it slipped behind the drawer where it remained stuck.
After Muroff and his wife returned the money, they received the following note from the previous owner:
"I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and integrity. I do not think there are too many people in this world that would have done what you did by calling me. I do like to believe that there are still good people left in this crazy world we live in. You certainly are one of them."
With a single decision that most people probably wouldn't have made, Rabbi and Mrs. Muroff exemplified one of the highest precepts of Judaism: Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification God's name through righteous and praiseworthy acts.
When the Jewish people accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai, we were not only taking on the 613 commandments contained therein; we were also agreeing to act as God's representatives to the rest of the world -- His PR team, so to speak. Our conduct, when guided by the Torah, is meant to set an example for the rest of humanity for how we should live.

This, by the way, is the reason why we Jews get a lot of attention when we slip up, and why the media works so hard to vilify us. When the press reported the Bernie Madoff scandal, for example, nine articles out of ten included the detail that he was a Jew. It's an interesting piece of information, but it wasn't really pertinent to the story. Including it functioned mostly to throw stones at Jews. Every day, the false message is spread across the world that Israel is an "apartheid state," that we abuse our own citizens and are the perpetrators in crimes against human rights. The rest of the world benefits from our bad press, because it means the bar for behavior is lowered.
But every act of Kiddush Hashem we do has the tremendous power to offset these negative messages and to imbue the world around us with holiness. Every time we make the choice to act with decency, kindness and respect, every time we do the right thing, even when it's hard, we are showing the world what human beings are truly capable of. And in the age of social media, as we see from the Muroff story, this message can reverberate around the world.

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