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Monday, May 15, 2006

There's a lesson in there somewhere

While not a meme per se... today's post is meant as a response to [am I really doing this???] Dov Bear's request in this post.  Specifically, it is meant to relate to #25 (and in an ironic way to #19).

A friend and neighbor of mine who is a shochet (a specially trained person who slaughters kosher animals) told me the following story.  I have no idea if these events actually happened... but this is one of those stories that if it isn't true, is really should be:

A group of about 50 ultra-religious shochdim (the plural of shochet) from all over the world were flown to Argentina to spend a couple of weeks slaughtering a large order of animals which were to be put into frozen storage for use by the community over the course of several months.

They arrived, checked into their hotel, and each day of their stay they followed the same itinerary:

  • Left their hotel early in the morning to take chartered buses to the slaughterhouse.
  • Spent the day slaughtering and checking the animals and placing the kosher meat into a locked freezer storage unit.
  • Took the chartered buses back to the hotel in the evening.

The last day of their work followed the same itinerary except that instead of returning to the hotel for the night, the chartered buses were only scheduled to stop at the hotel to pick up their luggage and then take them to the airport for their flights back to their various countries.

When the men were passing the gates to the slaughterhouse for the last time the security guard refused to let them board their buses, insisting that someone was missing.  A quick count revealed that one of them was, in fact, unaccounted for.

A search of the slaughterhouse turned up no sign of the man and the group's leader was about to call the police when someone suggested they look in the locked freezer unit where all of the kosher meat they had slaughtered had been put. 

Sure enough, the missing man was found there... extremely cold, but otherwise unhurt.  However, if he had been left in there until the first shipment of meat was scheduled to be picked up, he would certainly have been long dead.

When the group's leader asked the security guard how he had realized that someone was missing, since with their long beards and almost identical clothes they probably looked alike to the non-Jew, the guard answered "the missing man was the only one of your group who ever said 'hello' and 'good-bye' to me".

I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.


Posted by David Bogner on May 15, 2006 | Permalink


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The lesson you intended probably has to do with the importance of common courtesy and etiquette, but another question and possible lesson is raised. Why was it the only courteous man the one who ended up in the freezer? At first glance the story seems to be teaching “no matter how scrupulous you are about the technical details of piety, remember that it’s also very important to be nice,” but on reflection it may actually be saying “nice guys get forgotten in the freezer. Yeah, they get retrieved eventually, but the mean guys were sure to elbow their way out before the door closed.”

Posted by: Doctor Bean | May 15, 2006 12:58:59 AM

I wondered at the two posts in one day and then realized that you either wrote Mondays post in the dead of night, or earlier and set it to post first thing.

I'll expose my Bhuddist sympathies and say "karma". Just shows that is is worth being nice/polite to everyone no matter how insignificant they appear.
(Advice to be filed together with the recommendation to only get stroppy with waiters, no matter how bad they are, AFTER the meal - to avoid bad things being injested).

Posted by: lisoosh | May 15, 2006 1:07:56 AM

Dr. Bean cracked me up.

Of course if they were all nice, the guard wouldn't have noticed.

So maybe the message is: "It's good to be different".

Posted by: lisoosh | May 15, 2006 1:11:31 AM

My father-in-law travels from Israel to Argentina to work as a shochet. At first, I was going to call him to verify the story. On second thought, I will remind him that on his next trip he should pack a sweater.

Posted by: Alan | May 15, 2006 3:48:00 AM

An important lesson, indeed. Just one question- what made you post at such an odd time of day (or perhaps night)?

Posted by: tnspr569 | May 15, 2006 5:44:37 AM

Great story (true or not). Sadly, it rings awfully true. Another message: All the others were too self-focused to realize that someone was missing. Of course, not everyone would realize - but shouldn't at least one of them? No - they're too caught up in themselves.

Posted by: Ezzie | May 15, 2006 5:56:58 AM

The real question is: how did this guy get himself locked up in the freezer in the first place?!

Posted by: Irina | May 15, 2006 6:31:15 AM

I'm pretty sure as well but was even more bfr I read Doctor Bean's comment and started laughing. Which is a good thing bcs it's 5.22 am and- Hi, remember insomnia? *furball*

Posted by: Lioness | May 15, 2006 7:22:37 AM

The story would also seem to be related to #6...

By the way, my father, who flies an incredible amount, always makes sure to talk to the staff of the plane. He has quite a few stories about how that helped him out - if by getting bumped up to first class or other things.

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2006 11:46:53 AM

The story is also related to #29

The more I learn about the school of Hillel, the more I wonder about rabbis today, specfically Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

It seems the great sages of the past tried their best to interpet the laws as compassionately as possible.

Why are women still segregated at some services? Aren't we all supposed to have the faith of Miriam?

I'm still learning. I would like to live a life of an Orthodox Jew but some of it holds me back. Especially how women seem to be regarded.

Sorry for the rant. The rabbi who is guiding me in my return to the faith of my father is Reform but I have studied more of the Orthodox and feel drawn to it. It just confuses me how women are regarded.

Posted by: seawitch | May 15, 2006 2:39:43 PM

My interpretation of your story is somewhat different Trep… If the likes of Azulophy
found yet another meaning to your story it would be of great importance to his/her life as a Jew.

*Time will prove me right on this one*

Posted by: pk | May 15, 2006 2:58:01 PM

I assume the "typo" in the title is intentional? If not, it should be. :o)

p.s. Some of us are monoliths. Others diet.

Posted by: Tanya | May 15, 2006 5:09:39 PM

I passed this story to a friend and he told me it's an old story that appeared in Chaim Valder books.
(A famous charedi author)

I also found another version to the story:

Posted by: Eli | May 15, 2006 5:19:52 PM

Doctor Bean... Funny, I hadn't thought of that. I guess the real lesson is that bad stuff can happen to anyone... but only the thoughtful are worthy of coming through it. Sometimes, anyway. :-)

Lisoosh... Yeah, my schedule has been turned on its ear lately. There is a Jewish concept akin to Karma, but it doesn't have the same catchy ring to it: "Shlach lachmicha al pnei hamayim, ki brov hayamim timxa'enu" (Kohelet 11:1) "Send your bread upon the face of the waters, for after many days you will find it."

Alan... Good advice. :-) It sounds like you married into an interesting family. Can't wait to spend some time this summer getting to know 'the Mrs.'

tnspr569... Did you miss the 8 or 10 times in the past week that I've mentioned I am having trouble sleeping? :-)

Ezzie... An important aspect of the story was that they were all from different places and wouldn't have necessarily noticed if one of their number was missing.

Irina... I'm assuming the freezer was a pretty large one.

Lioness... I feel your pain. Literally.

Dave... I've never heard a downside to being nice.

Seawitch... A long discussion... but not for today. I'm not shying away from your questions... just short on time to be able to deal with it properly.

PK... OK, I can see a possible connection.

Tanya... No, that is the result of writing at 1:00AM. :-)

Eli... I also found it on a Chabad site. Like I said, if it isn't true, it should be.

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 15, 2006 5:30:11 PM

are you sure this wasn't an episode of Lucy?

Posted by: Randi(cruisin-mom) | May 15, 2006 5:30:55 PM

wow, powerful.

Posted by: Tonny | May 15, 2006 7:13:21 PM

Wow. Menschlichkeit goes a long way! Thanks for this post. I'll show it to my kids.

Posted by: ezer knegdo | May 15, 2006 7:31:00 PM

Fake but accurate...

Posted by: ralphie | May 16, 2006 12:34:14 AM

Powerful stuff!

Posted by: FrumGirl | May 16, 2006 1:09:03 AM

It's called kharma, baby.

Posted by: christopher | May 16, 2006 9:39:09 AM

Trep: Dave... I've never heard a downside to being nice.

How about "Nice guys finish last."

Posted by: JoeSettler | May 16, 2006 11:27:27 AM

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