Our Roots

There were over two hundred Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops gathered at the Domus Galilee on the Mount of Beatitudes for a convivence organized by the Neocatechumenal Way this January. The Minister of Tourism and the Mayor of Galilee spoke passionately about the close relationships that there should be between Christians and Jews. Christianity is after all an offshoot of the Jewish religion. This is why, I suppose, there is a certain familiarity to our ears when we listen to Jewish anecdotes.

“What would you do if you found a million rubles in the market place and you knew to whom they belong? Would you withstand the temptation and return the money?” The Jew thought for a moment and then answered. “If I knew that the money belonged to a millionaire, I am afraid I would not be able to withstand the temptation and I would keep the money. But if I knew that the million rubles belonged to the poor people, I would be quick to return it to the last penny!”

Two Jews men wanted to cross a river that was infested with crocodiles. “Are you afraid?” asked one to the other. “Don’t you know that God is good and merciful?” Yes, I do,” said the other. “But what if God suddenly chooses to be good to the crocodiles and provide meat for them?”

A Jew came to Rabbi Akiba on the eve of the Passover. “Rabbi, I’ve a question,” he said. “Is it permissible to use four cups of milk at Seder instead of wine? “Why should you want to substitute milk for wine? Are you ill?” “No, rabbi, but I can’t afford the wine.” The discerning Rabbi said, “I am sorry. It is forbidden to substitute milk for wine. Take these 20 rubles and purchase wine. “After the man left, his wife angrily chided. “Twenty rubles for wine? Two or three would have been sufficient.” “Don’t be angry,” the rabbi replied. “If this man was prepared to drink milk at the Seder, he also didn’t have money to buy meat and perhaps not even fish and matzo. Now he will be able to observe the Seder properly.” This is the real meaning of Passover. “If your brother becomes poor, you shall support him.”

A grocer lost his store and had no visible means of support. One of his customers was very concerned and said, “Don’t you have any means of support whatever?” The grocer replied, “To tell the truth, I have three!” “Three?!” the customer exclaimed knowing the man’s financial condition. “What are they?” And the grocer replied. “My God, my health and my hands.”

A man called his friends together for dinner, asked them to name their favorite charities, and then made out substantial checks to them. The friends asked him, “Did you find gold?” And he replied, “No, I found God!”

There is a passage in the old Jewish book of Zohar, the chief text of the Jewish Kabbalah that goes like this: “Whenever the Jews on earth rejoice in their festivals, they give praise to the Lord. They put on fine clothes and load their tables with good food. So the angel asks, ‘Why do the Jews pamper themselves so much?’ And God answers, ‘they have a distinguished guest today. I am with them’.”


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.