(A work of fiction)

Fifteen inmates showed up for today’s Jewish services. Seven inmates were Jewish, seven were a mixture of African American and seven were Latino. I, Jewish Chaplain Weitz, talked about the history of the Jews as it relates to the miraculous and enigmatic Purim story.

“Has anybody ready the Book of Esther in the Bible?” I announced to the attendees in the prison chapel. There were no hands today; I began to introduce the history of King Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem. How tens of thousands of Jews were sent into exile and were forced to live in Babylon. And how the story of Purim took place right before the return of the Jews under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. McAllister, a black inmate, yelled out:

“Rabbi, with all due respect, this sounds like one more ancient story. I don’t want to hear another sob story. What’s the real meaning of the story Purim?”

I turned to him. “That’s a great question,” I said, “I believe it’s a narrative that shows how God manifests in many ways. In Biblical times people believed in miracles that broke the rules of nature. These revealed miracles manifested as clear as day; a miracle manifested and the rules of nature were broken.  There are other miracles, whereby one can’t tell that there was a miracle; however, one knows that a miracle did happen. This is called a concealed miracle. There is God revealed and God concealed.  God revealed is God revealing Himself as it were, to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God concealed is God during the Holocaust.”

As I was speaking I looked around the room and tried to gauge how my guys were taking all this in. I could tell something was missing. I could feel they weren’t getting what I was saying. There was silence. The dead silence of no understanding. The silence of dead souls yearning to be awakened.

“Let me be straight with you,” I continued, “who, in this room has experienced God revealed to you personally in some way: you know it to be true at least for yourself. On the other hand, who does not experience God: you believe in God but there is no evidence in that moment that God even exists! Anybody?”

There was silence in the chapel. The light was streaming in through the large cathedral windows. The light came in as rays of golden possibilities in an impossible situation. The inmates were sitting on pews and around the table where we were studying in the back of the chapel. Nobody raised their hands. I asked myself, what would it take to generate interest and excitement in the topic of miracles, any kind of response-something? Was the lack of responses due to the oppressive and suppressive after-effects of long term incarceration? Or was there a lack of experience among these inmates? Maybe no one experienced a miracle?

I wondered: were I to open up and relate my personal experiences to these multi ethnic inmates, would they also open up to me? I began talking about my personal experiences, those moments where I experienced God totally, intimately and existentially real.

“I’d like to tell you all where I’m coming from,” I said. “A long time ago, I traveled to Golden, Colorado a suburb of Denver and apprenticed myself under the tutelage of the great Rocky Mountain Rabbi Simon Turetsky, a great, great, great, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov the founder of Chassidism. He was an awe- inspiring man who pursued the quest for truth in conversations with his family and with his students. Or, with anybody who showed up at his door like I did one fateful day in autumn, the wind blowing precisely and boisterously into my face. Turetsky knew I was coming. I knocked on his door. He opened it. He walked up to my face and enunciated the words clearly and emphatically:

Why are you here and what do you really want from me?’ NO WELCOME.  His bulging bloodshot eyes peered into my eyes. I responded clearly: ‘I wish to study Torah with you, that’s all. Do you think that’s possible?’

‘Good.’ He said staring at me with his bulging red teary eyes. ‘We‘ll get you set up in the community; then we’ll talk.’ He walked away.

“I don’t want to get into all the details what I studied with Rabbi Turetsky. Simply said, I studied with him massive selections from all the revealed to secret Jewish textual traditions including Talmud and religious law to secret-Kabbalah and Chassidism. Never the less, half way through my year long study, I decided to take a break from the perpetual intensity of a very small community where the Rocky Mountain Rabbi got on everyone’s nerves in the name of truth 24/7.”

“Besides my personal issues with the Rabbi, the emotional climate in the Turetsky household was intense, contentious, weird and cultic. This was a family who were directly descended from great rabbis going back hundreds of years.  They were really proud of it. And they made sure I knew who they were. I decided to take a two week trip San Francisco.”

“I went by Greyhound Bus to San Francisco and checked out The House of Love and Prayer, that famous Jewish hippie drop in center where I had taught Jewish mysticism years before. Then I toured the SF Bay Area, had enormous fun and decided to go back with a driveaway. Now driveaways were really popular in the 1970’s. If you needed to go somewhere in the US of A, there were car dealers that either bought new cars at great distances and contracted anyone to drive their cars to their destination. Or, professional movers arranged for people to move all their possessions and their automobiles cross country by advertising to pay people, by giving them the car and one full gas tank with a signed contractual agreement to drive from LA to NY, SF to NY, SF to Chicago or Frisco to LA. All you needed was a clean driver’s license.”

“I hooked up with a guy named Bobbi Morrison who was driving back to Denver in a 1975 Lincoln Continental. I told the guy I didn’t know how to drive but that I would split the expenses. He said: ‘That would be great. Whatever you can contribute would help. Having someone else in the car would work fine for me.’”

“It was a great experience driving through the magnificent expanse of the snowy Sierras, the vast desolation of Nevada and the dark grey and white wonders of the Rocky Mountains, those massive slate rocks  adorned by the jewels of snowy slopes. We made great time until we were around fifty miles west of Denver and winter hit us hard. Snow started falling and swooping down on the roads like a ghostly spirit. When it starts snowing in the Rockies the snow swoops in and captures you like the Wicked Witch of the North and the Ice Queen combined to make a horrendous experience of nastiness. We slowed down to a crawl until we were about to enter the Eisenhower tunnel; at that moment all traffic stopped. The highway patrol shut down the tunnel, broadcasting over megaphones that the roads were treacherous and that everyone should park off the road. We parked as the snow kept coming down non-stop for hours and hours. There was nothing to do but wait.”

“After four hours, the Colorado Highway Patrol decided to open the Eisenhower tunnel. It was now a cold day with snow everywhere and the sun was shining in brilliant and ruthless winter light. The Lincoln picked up speed; the road was cleared but there was ice and snow everywhere. We cleared the tunnel and we proceeded gingerly through the tunnel and then continued on the curved mountain highway: slow but steady. I could see a sign to my right that said – Georgetown: Next Exit. Suddenly, the car began to slip, slide, twist and veer in every direction and it seemed to me, as if some force was gently, firmly, demonically pulling us off the road. Georgetown was down below; it must’ve been a hundred to two hundred feet down in a valley and the car started slowing down to a crawl. I could see inside my brain and realized I had gone into a state of  high alert time and my interior consciousness slowed down to milliseconds.”

“We were sliding off the edge of the mountain and I was going to die. My entire universe slowed down to the point that each second became a life time. Before my mind’s eye, my entire life appeared in continuous flashes as if someone was showing me a staccato slideshow of my entire life from my earliest memories to the present moment. The Lincoln Continental started flying off the mountain slowly and terrifyingly into an abyss right before my eyes. My life sped through my consciousness, seeing all the details of a short twenty-six year old rebellious life. There was an uncanny peace inside my mind as I was falling: it was all right, my mind said to me, everything was peaceful inside. Fall.. Fall.. Fall. And bang. I am jolted. I look around. I am still alive. The driver is still alive. What happened? We were alive. Bobbi turned to me:

‘Danny- are you OK? Are you hurt?’

‘I’m OK .What about you? Are you all right?’

‘I‘m all right. What happened?’

‘We slid off the mountain? Ice. We’re alive- we made it!

“I was in a state of shock. The driver turned to me and spoke quickly:”

‘Hey! Danny! This is weird, but listen carefully. I just realized when I contracted with the driveway company to drive this Lincoln Continental   from San Francisco to Denver I didn’t put you on the contract because I was he only driver listed on the contract which included an insurance policy. If the insurance company found out there was another person in the car besides the signed-off driver this might just invalidate the entire policy.  I would be screwed. You have to get out of the car and wait behind this cabin.’

“He pointed to cabin right behind us and spoke urgently:

‘Take your backpack and wait till the police and the tow truck comes. But it looks to me the car is a tough boat- it looks like the car is completely intact- ok.  I will come back to you after they write their report and pick you up.  I’ll put the high beam facing the cabin. Ok? Are you with me?’

         ‘Yeah. I hear you.’

“I was in a state of shock- I was in a daze. I thought to myself: ‘What is going on? Why is this guy telling me to leave. I need emergency care!’ Bobbi  Morrison, the driver, kept urging me to get out. I grabbed my pack. Where were my glasses? I could barely see and Bobbi was turning hyper psycho by the second. He was hysterical! I left the car and sat down behind the cabin, waiting in the cold, in the snow, in a state of shock but glad to be alive, stunned, and silent as the craggy mountain slate surrounding me and protecting me from the winds.

“I waited. Two hours passed. It was getting dark; suddenly I saw two headlights coming towards me as I stared from out behind the cabin with no eyeglasses on; I am nearsighted. I could not see who it was. Was it Bobbi? Was it the police? I was in a state of shock. I didn’t move and after ten minutes parked with the headlights shining on the cabin, the car moved away. I was left alone, abandoned. I found out the car with the headlights beaming at my shell shocked skull was the Lincoln Continental I was waiting for. Why didn’t he come out of the car and yell for me? Why didn’t he step out of the car and see if I was all right?  He had to move on. Luckily, I gave him an address and phone number in Golden [Rabbi Simon Turetsky's home] as an emergency place to meet if we couldn’t find each other. I was in a state of shock. Night time came in the frigid Rockies slowly freezing my body to death. Ice hell.  I decided to crawl down the embankment and walk to Georgetown. I had to squint real hard because there were no streetlights, just signs over bars and hotels. I walked to a bar since it was the building closest  to me and  one that had the brightest, reddest, florescent display around. I walked into blaring loud rock’n roll, tall wood ceilings, and lots of beer being drunk. There were tables, dart boards and mini bowling ball games.  But mostly there were a lot of farmer boys drinking – big farmer boys drinking beer, cold beer on a frigid night. By and by some guys noticed me and they saw I was in a bad way, asked what happened to me and I said:

‘I was in a bad car accident car- went off a cliff outside Georgetown the     other driver took off without me and here I am on my way to Golden and my   glasses are in the snow where the car fell.  I’m lucky to be alive! Where you guys from?’

“I could barely think logically in the moment. I was in a state of shock. I wanted to converse calmly but the words that came out were surreal.”

‘Oh we’re from Minni-Soooota,” said a big fat blond dude  around six four or so.’

‘You’re a long way from Minnesota,’ I said. ‘I knew someone from Fargo.’

Big Boy Blondie says: ‘Hey don’t you know that’s in North Dakota?’

I said: ‘Oh yeah you’re right.  What brings you guys here?’

‘Skiing.’  “They all raised their mugs yelling,” ‘Ski to Hell Might as Well!’ They were in a swell mood.

“One guy said to me: ‘Why don’t you come with us for the night and you can hitch back to Cowtown tomorrow morning.’

I said: ‘Sure that would be great.’

Only after they finished three more beers to make an even ten, did they go back to their four-bedroom townhouse and kept on drinking beer and playing poker on the muddied carpets all night long. I conked out as soon as I arrived at the townhouse, which looked like a big dark cavern, made up of giant fur and pine, warm light bulbs, central heating, an empty kitchen but a full fridge with nothing but lager. I woke up at six am and all five farm boys were lying sprawled on the carpets clutching empty beer cans and poker chips flung haphazardly in every which way. I was truly thankful to them but I had to move on. I had to go back to the accident site and look for my glasses, wallet and any other personal possessions embedded in the snow by now. One Minnesota angel was waking up. I got his attention:

‘Tell everybody thanks a million. You guys were a God send.’

‘Well if yawannacumback and have another beer drop on by.’

He mumbled and went back to sleep. I moved outside and was met by the Rocky Mountain dawn. I spent two to three hours looking for things and it seemed to me, magically, I found them. My cash was missing but everything else was intact.  Gloves, glasses, food, ID cards, wallet and keys to my apartment in good ole Golden, Colorado. I was good to go. I went back to the Bar in Georgetown, called up my roommate and fellow student, Sean Friedkin, a former Grateful Dead Head groupie, son of a local and wealthy orthopedic surgeon who decided after meeting the ferociously intense Rabbi Turetsky, to become a holy roller Jewish Chasid.”

I called him up: ‘Hey! Shmelky. I was in a car accident coming back from Frisco, would you come and pick me up. I am in a state of shock.’

He said: ‘Can you walk?’

‘What do you mean?  The car I was riding in slid off the mountain outside of Jamestown. I am real shaky. How about it?’

‘Why don’t you hitch hike back to Denver?’

He hung up on me. I was furious at him. What kind of creep was this guy? I shared my apartment with him. I studied with the same illustrious Rabbi as he was..and he could not help his fellow student in a time of need as I was in. I gave up on him.

“I surrendered to the moment and decided to stick my thumb out eastward to Denver. I saw above and surrounding me, white mountains with grey crags jutting out. I was shocked.  Dismayed. Grateful to be alive. Perturbed that my colleague who I thought was a brother, friend and roommate could not extend to me just a bit of help and he could not even speak cordially. He sounded like Turetsky: rude, ruthless, curt and cutting-all for the sake of speaking truth at all costs, even at the cost of embarrassing the other. I realized, if this was the totally  unhelpful response I received from individuals I was working, studying and praying to God with, perhaps Golden, Colorado was the wrong place for me to commit to. A sign from heaven perhaps.”

“I was standing in the cold for seventy two minutes; I counted. I had nothing to do but count and wait. It was cold. The sky was   brilliantly luminescent and the sun was beaming down upon the entire mountainside. Rays of joy. Rays washing away all my  doubts, dissolving all the presumptions of my mind. Then, I looked up to the sky and saw lucidly -it was surely not a hallucination: a double rainbow appeared around the sun surrounded by billowing very high effervescent clouds; surrounded by mammoth craggy slate mountains twelve thousand feet high. The terror of the past twenty four hours, was washed away with an exuberance that lifted my entire being until I was dancing on the highway waiting for my ride back to my temporary home in Golden. Words of prayers spontaneously  came out of my mouth:”

In your salvation I’m a hopin’ for O lord ..lishuatcha kivisee hashem..

In your joyous sunrays my mind has become clear.

In the strength of your mountains I have attained courage to continue my spiritual journey.

In your snowy white essence I have purified all my mistakes until they glisten like diamonds in the sea of wisdom.

I sing and dance in your endless universe celebrating every second of life.

Just as the sky is lucidly clear my mind and heart are clear.

Just as the Sun illuminates all the dark crevices in the rocks, so I am able to pierce all my doubts.

Li-shu-atcha kivisi- adoshem.

I yearn only for salvation that illuminates all parts of my being my heart, my soul, my body. All saved in your joyous clarity.

“I sang and danced and the mountains, clouds and sun danced with me!”

“I must have appeared like a transient, hippie, beggar, gypsy recklessly twirling on the road, until I heard my reverie destroyed by the sound of of a VW Beetle screeching around fifty yards away. At last, a ride- I told myself. I run to the Bug, look inside and see: a miniature man, wearing metal braces on his legs …glasses on his oversized head.”

He said cheerfully: ‘Hi. Do you need a lift?’

‘ I sure do. Are you heading towards Golden?’

‘Why, yes I am? Well hop in.’

“Thus, my miraculous moment concluded with another miracle of sorts; a little man in a VW bug helped me return to my home safely. I realized at that moment I ought not to rely on people just because they lived with you, studied with you and prayed with you. Help may come from a completely new direction one could never conceive of. My experience slip-sliding off a road in the middle of the mountains was an experience no one could take from me. Those who helped me in this terrifying accident were not Jews and even when I reached out to the Jewish community, I was deeply connected to or so I thought, they did not help my situation. People didn’t care. They were self-absorbed in their personal lives. They couldn’t see past themselves, even though the entire world view of the Bible is: if someone needs help- go help them whoever they are, wherever they are.”

I turned to my boys in the chapel; it was very quiet. They looked at me in stunned silence. I turned to them and asked:

“What I shared with you guys is my personal miracle. What is your miracle? It doesn’t have to be fantastic as my story. It could be anything that happened to yourself or those around you. You realized something terribly other, out of the ordinary occurred. Something of the ‘order’ of a miracle; or call it what ever you wish. Any volunteers?”

Little Chief, raised his hand. He is a diminutive portly Jewish boy in for life not because he killed any one but just that he knew someone who killed someone and was implicated that murder.

Here he was my favorite student.

Little Chief began his tale: ‘I was married for many years. My wife and I had two children but we were not making too much money. We could not keep our mortgage. Our house was going to be foreclosed by our friendly local bank.  It looked like everything we put into a ranch-style house down in Southern California was going to waste. We were finished. We were devastated. We had spent twelve years working to own a house in a lovely suburban neighborhood and all this was coming to a miserable end. We wanted to pray to God but we are so devastated we, as a family, came to a point where we had no prayers. The day before the house was going to close, we had packed everything we owned. I received a letter from a family friend telling me some strange news. I had a great aunt I knew for many years. She died and the only relatives who remained alive were her three grandnephews. These were the heirs to her property: an old house and lots of furniture nick- naks. But the point was, she communicated to a family friend before she died that she had a dream: She dreamt that I was the most spiritual of all three grandnephews, therefore most of the money should go to me for the money would best be used for charity more than the other two nephews.

Little Chief looked around at everyone in the chapel and continued: “I was a million miles away when this news came through. I was in a state of total and unconditional hopelessness. There was no hope; I was broken through and through. I experienced God’s grace for the first time in my life. I guess you can call this a miracle.”

All the boys murmured: Yes. Silence in the chapel.

I responded: ‘Thank you Little Chief. I hope and pray you will have more miracles in your life. Miracles you could not believe would happen to you..”

‘ Would anyone else like to share a miraculous experience? ‘

A Mexican-American inmate named Pedro Sandoval, raised his hand. He wore black round glasses. He was thin, taller than average, wearing a standard prison, white generic, baseball cap. Pedro was a lizard. He moved like one and talked slowly like he was strolling among saguaro cactus south of Tucson. He has been coming to Jewish services at least three years. He rarely talked. I welcomed his opening up.

‘Well, you know, the only thing I could think of was driving across the Nevada desert in a Chevy Impala. I had taken a side road. Was supposed to meet some brother. Don’t ask why. I just had to complete this errand and for some reason the road got rougher and rougher as I kept driving until I realized I went off the road and drove right into an industrial dump with nails every where my Chevy got hit with two flats instantaneously.  I had one extra tire and that’s when I looked around. I was in a f#***** excuse the expression- desert. Mountains to the west and mountains to the east and nothing in between, just cactus, snakes, lizards and a very hot sun. It must’ve been one hundred and twenty five degrees. There was nobody around. It was beautiful at first, but I had no water, you see. I only had a bottle of tequila.’

‘I asked myself how am I going to get out of here? I started drinking, getting even more dehydrated; the sun scorching my body. I start seeing lizards in the Tequila and it really was the worm you know what I mean. I was out for ten hours in the sun I was hallucinating, no, I was not taking drugs, I just drank too much tequila. I realize I might die out here so I started saying prayers: I mean the god honest truth there was nobody out there. I could hear a bug flying a mile away. It was a psychedelic  hell. They weren’t bugs- they were vultures and I did know what they were. I tried to find some such shade it felt hotter in the shade. I was drifting in and out of consciousness twirling inside my tequila brain of darkness and heat.’

‘Hey! Hey You! Are You All right?!’

‘I heard voices- someone was calling me- was it an Angel? Jesus?  God?  No. It was a truck driver hauling garbage. He knew there was this secret place people dumped shit, was bringing a load to dump out in the wasteland. I told him I had blown two tires. Did he have water? He gave me some water which I drank like it was the best Tequila ever. He said:

‘Hey! If you wait till I dump this load, I will hook up your car. It’s a pretty one that Impala and we’ll haul it to a shop around twenty miles from here.’

I told him there was no other place I was going so I would  just sit and wait.

‘Nevertheless my brothers,’ Pedro turned to the rest of the guys. ‘I was a    dead man -no doubt about it; this was sunset for me and if it wasn’t for that illegal dump driver I’d be dead. Only afterwards did I realize I experienced a miracle. At the time it was just a matter of survival. In matter of fact, honestly- I have never thought about what happened for the past eighteen years ever since I entered the system. I guess you could call it a miracle. Yeah, I guess it was. I believe it was the last miracle I ever experienced.’

‘Pedro, thank you,’ I said. It’s amazing isn’t it. You could’ve died and probably no one would’ve known. Next watch out with that tequila you’re drinking!’

I turned to the group- I looked into their eyes. I knew the one miracle they wished for every moment of their incarceration: to be free.

“How about one more volunteer to share a miracle you have experienced in your life, whatever a miracle means to you.”

“Yes! I would like to share”

All eyes turned to Mick Mandelbaum a nice Jewish boy from Chassidic Brooklyn who, when it got too hot in Brooklyn because of his personal issues with the Genovese mafia of Bay Ridge, ran to LA where he continued his masterful burglary business with Hollywood clientele, until he was busted three times too many and now is a Three Striker according to the Penal Code of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. That means he received a life sentence. I look at him and notice that by his facial looks alone he could’ve easily been my brother or at least my first cousin. I do admit I am embarrassed when I meet him.  He’s not my biological brother- but genetically and socially he is my brother! Watching him leads me to believe that there are souls who for some reason will end up in prison no matter what kind of great family background they were nutured in. I have developed a relationship with Mikki and looked forward to what he has to say.

‘Well, guys I never did this before; however, its time is due. I am a burglar; that’s why I’m here. I am not going to apologize because you are what you are. One time, I was living in West Hollywood and I was scoping out a house whose owners I knew were wealthy, I mean wealthier than me and that could be anybody. Nevertheless they were a certain kind of Hollywood indulgent, self complacent, snotty, we-deserve-everything-we-have-and-who-are-you-kind-of-people. One night I decided to do a job on this house I was scoping out. There was only one light in the foyer. There was a stone wall draped by red and orange bougainvillea. I walked around the side of the house; I knew the walls were lower for the ground sloped down into a well manicured back garden lawn and patio setup. I had poisoned a piece of meat to knock out who ever was on the other side. I threw the meat over the fence and sure enough two big vicious sounding dogs immediately ran and barked viciously and then began eating the meat. In a matter of minutes they were out cold. I was wearing a black beret, black shirt, black pants, black shoes and black bag. I jumped over the fence. I climbed to the second floor since I knew this is where people leave their windows unlocked. I was lucky. I got in and had to work very fast very diligently with one pointed consciousness. I don’t know if this will make any sense to anyone here. I did not know where to look. I never broke into this house. I did something I was trained by a secret school of Kabbalah: I performed a ritual in my head called a unification meditation where you imagine that you have become one with God. I said, ‘Leshaimyichidkidsheebrichhee.’ I am unified with God and His Divine Presence forever. I felt at one with God even though I knew I was performing a crime; I felt this was the only thing I had going for me and I had to use this power. It was dark except for the beam of a mini flashlight. I felt some light moving me, guiding, moving, compelling me to move towards a place I normally would not have looked. My mind opened up to imagine I could enter the owner’s mindset. I was in the house for forty five minutes. This was much too long a time to be in one place. I had to leave before someone would notice. What was I to do? I stopped completely: emptied my self of every concept I had and imagined God taking over my consciousness. And then I slowly walked over to a nondescript closet in one of the smaller bedrooms towards the back of the house. I opened up the closet and an unseen force moved my hands to shoeboxes on the floor. I opened the shoebox and took out the shoes; I stared at them; they felt heavy. I stuck my fingers into the right shoe and pulled out a bag.  I opened the bag and discovered a stash of hundred dollar bills. I opened up the nearest window jumped out and ran home realizing that only God could’ve brought me to this money. End of story.’

My initial interior reaction was a state of shock. How was I to react to a thief confessing to practicing a meditative practice (revered by Jewish mystics throughout the world) as a way to being a successful thief! How could I acknowledge that this was a miracle? I looked at Mikki. His eyes were filmed over, glazed, as he was talking. It was like he just met the Baal Shem Tov and was ecstatic beyond his wildest dreams. Was I honoring someone’s crimes by letting him mythologize (mysticise) the experience?

I turned to the entire group.

“What do you all think about this last story?”

Their response:

“It does look like God was with him don’t it?”

“That maybe true but it got him in jail for the rest of his life!”

“Mikki’s story doesn’t help at all. I feel  disappointed that he would use God’s Name to commit a crime. Yes, I know I’ve committed crimes- bad crimes myself. I am no longer there. I’m here to clean up my act.”

Mikki Mandelbaum burst in with the last word:

“Whatever you want to say, it was a great story, right?”

There was a unanimous agreement with the last statement.

I was left astounded by the stories my guys confided. I was baffled and intrigued by the their notion of what a miracle is. And I was totally disturbed by Mikki’s use of Jewish ‘magic’ to commit crimes. I remembered there was a famous Talmudic Sage by the Name of Resh Lakish. He was known to be the most famous brigand gangster in the land of Israel in the second century and at one point he had a conversion to studying Torah for the rest of his life and becoming the famous sage-Resh Lakish. But a thief who uses the Torah to succeed in stealing! That I haven’ t heard.

I drove back to my motel room in Gabilon and watched on my right and left side of the highway, hundreds of honest farm workers pick the last of the broccoli in long rows of fields underneath multicolored umbrellas. It was a hot day and some compassionate farmer set up these umbrellas to protect his workers from the ruthless, unrelenting sun.


Rabbi Eliahu Kleinis the director of Matir: Outreach and Support for Jews in Prisons and Hospitals.


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