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A Tiny Fix and a Little Snip

A Tiny Fix and a Little Snip

Two Elul Parables

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The Hole In The Boat

A man was called to the beach to paint a boat. He brought his paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright, new red, as he was hired to do. As he painted the boat, he noticed that the paint was seeping through the bottom of the boat. He realized that there was a leak, and he decided to mend it. When the painting was done, he collected his money for the job and went away.

The following day the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a large check. The painter was surprised. "You have already paid me for painting the boat," he said.

"But this is not for the paint job. It is for mending the leak in the boat."

"That was so small a thing that I even did not want to charge you for it. Surely you are not paying me this huge amount for so small a thing?"

"My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened.”

"When I asked you to paint the boat I had forgotten to mention to you about the leak. When the boat was nice and dry, my children took the boat and went fishing. When I found that they had gone out in the boat, I was frantic for I remembered that the boat had a leak! Imagine my relief and happiness when I saw them coming back safe and sound. I examined the boat and saw that you had repaired the leak. Now you see what you have done? You have saved the lives of my children! I haven't enough money to repay you for your 'little' good deed...”

A Piece of String

A wealthy merchant bought a wonderful candelabra for his home. It was a masterpiece, made of pure crystal and studded with precious stones. It cost a real fortune.

Because of the candelabra's massive size, the ceiling in the merchant's dining room could not support its weight. In order to hang this beautiful candelabrum, a hole was bored in the ceiling, through which a rope was run and fastened to a beam in the attic.

Everybody who came to the house admired the wonderful candelabra, and the merchant and his family were very proud of it.

One day a poor boy came begging for old clothes. He was told to go up to the attic, where their old clothes were stored, and to help himself to some. He went up to the attic, and collected a neat bundle of clothes. After packing them into his bag, he searched for a piece of string with which to tie it. He saw a rope wound around a nail and decided to help himself to a piece. So he took out his pocketknife and cut the rope.

Crash! There was a terrific smash, and the next moment the whole family rushed to the attic crying: "You idiot! Look what you have done! You have ruined us!"

The poor boy could not understand what all the excitement was about. He said: "What do you mean, ruined you? All I did was to take a small piece of rope. Surely this did not ruin you?"

"You poor fish," replied the merchant. "Yes, all you did was to take a piece of rope. But it so happened that my precious candelabra hung by it. Now you have broken it beyond repair!"


These two stories, my friends, have one moral: Very often, by doing what seems to us a "small" good deed we never know what wonderful thing we have really done. And conversely, in committing what seems to us a "small" transgression, we are causing a terrible catastrophe. Both good deeds and bad deeds cause a "chain reaction." One good deed brings another good deed in its succession, and one transgression brings another. Each of them, no matter how seemingly small, may create or destroy worlds. Don't you think these two stories are worth remembering?

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martina bedar novato via jewishnovato.com August 25, 2017

Definitely worth remembering. Thank you, Menachem. Reply

Frances Gruno Arnprior August 24, 2017

I love these two stories.It reminds us that there is always a reaction to an action. Reply

Anonymous USA September 3, 2014

A Tiny Fix and a Little Snip Yes these two stories are worth remembering. A good job is not just a "good" unless one goes beyong decensy, and compassion. Another is taking responsibility for our actions by mending our ways and mouth. A good deed is not so good as long as we destroy with our mouh. Rejection could also become a very deadly outcome to those who suffer it. It takes the Glory of G-d to conceal matters, and the honor of kings to search them. We are all related in this G-d's Orchard. Princes/Princessess in relation to our King of King, yet we hurt one another constantly because of our arrogance not taking into consideration our tremendous gifts from the image of G-d. We, mostly look into the mirror to our image, not into G-d's insight. Let us all meditate on these two stories. They are very revealing. Thank you Reply

Rajiv Rajan Pune India September 3, 2014

Like Days of Awe... awesome! Thx Reply

Anonymous USA August 16, 2013

A Little Snip Fantastic story. It has taught me something very special. Yes, sometimes we might do a good deed and destroy it with a nip. Without even realizing it. In this story it is very obvious the damage done. But, there are times when we do a good deed and destroy others without even realizing what we have done because the situation is not as clear. How do we reconcile? meditating in this matter comes to mind. Doing what is right will be next. Thank you Reply

Zalmy Engel Adelaide, South Australia September 12, 2011

Familiar... Hm.... I was taught the second story when I was a young child, but the first one, I first read just now. Beautiful lessons can be taught with these stories.

Yashar Koach, Nissan! Reply

Anonymous Souderton, USA August 18, 2010

Butterfly effect reminds me of the butterfly effect, how one tiny flap of the butterfly's wings can cause a tornado. As Kohelet 12:14 says, "For G -d shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil." Reply

Chaya Riva Rubens London, uk September 23, 2008

These stories never outdate! I remember being taught these stories when I was a child and now I am teaching them to my students, what wonderful lessons to be learnt, the children loved role playing them as well.
Thank you! Reply

Anonymous Rio Rancho, NM, US via chabadchayil.org September 1, 2007

The Hole in the Boat and A Piece of String Thank you. Each of the stories is well told and being a 2nd Grade Religious School teacher, I will read each of these and build a conversation with my little wise ones.

Thank you again. Reply

Linda Haniford Brooklyn, NY August 12, 2007

Reading more into it... Story number two is a great example of why there are Rabbinic fences. You simply don't let an unlearned person into an area where they could get themselves into trouble.

Story number one reminds us to keep thinking about what we're able to do and not just what we're asked to do. Reply

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