Fresh Bagel

I heard a story once of a group of scholars who had gathered together and all but one had an illustrious rabbi for a father. As they went around the table each one said over a dvar torah in the name of his father. When they finally got to the one without a rabbi for a father he said the following, “My father was a baker, and he taught me a very important lesson: Sometimes a fresh bagel is better than a stale challah.”

It can’t be overstated how important it is to know that nothing is an accident. This is a portion of belief in God. It is the first commandment. The Almighty runs the world and there’s a reason for everything. If He wanted you born into a traditional family He would have. Why did you grow up the way you did? What benefits of your upbringing can you share with the society you are now a part of?

It’s so easy to focus on the negative; after all, that’s what the yetzer hara wants you to do. We can mull over endlessly the unwitting transgressions we did earlier in life, or all the things we lack by not coming from a frum family. But the hard part, and the more important part, is seeing what positive things we possess because of the way we grew up.

And how to use those positive things that are part of who we are, in our new role.

3 comments on “Fresh Bagel

  1. Reb Dovid:

    Rav Avrohom Twersky tells the story. The rebbe’s name was Rav Hirsch Rimanover. I told the story at the bar mitzvah of one of my students, a boy whose mother was Jewish and whose father wasn’t. I still hope that he’ll one day find his way back to Yiddishkeit.

  2. I couldn’t agree more.

    At least once a week, often times more, I meet a person, have a conversation, etc. where it becomes amazingly clear to me, how many details of my personal background had to happen the way they did so that I could have that conversation, empathize with that person, etc.

  3. The story you tell is from Admo”r Rav Meir Yechiel HaLevi Haltzshtok, the first Ostrovtzer Rebbe (Ostrowiece, Poland)whose father was a bagel baker. He was raised by the Grodzisker Rebbe Rav Elimelech z”l. These were among the many Chasidic groups totally destroyed in the Holocaust. My father’s z”l family were Ostrovtzer Chasidim. There is a corollary story from another Chasidic Master (whose name escapes me) whose father was a tailor. He said “Everything I know about serving Hashem I learned from my father ‘Don’t ruin the new items and repair the old ones'”

Comments are closed.