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Cracked Vessels

Cracked Vessels

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An old Chinese woman had two water cans which were attached to a yoke. Each day she put the yoke over her shoulders and went down to the river, filled the cans, and walked back to her modest hut. The water can on the right side of the yoke was fine and sturdy; when she arrived home it was always full. But the can on the left had a crack in it. By the time the woman arrived home, half the water was usually gone.

My sister's handicapped child could not walk, talk, hold his head up, or control any limb of his body.

The water can always felt inferior to his partner. He was ashamed that he was cracked and wasn't pulling his weight. One day he turned to the woman and apologized for being defective. The woman smiled gently and said, "Did you think I didn't know that you had a crack, and water dripped from you? Look at the path from the river to my hut. Do you see all the beautiful flowers that are growing on the one side of the path? Those are the flowers that I planted there, that you watered every day as I walked home from the river."


My sister had a severely handicapped child, a beautiful boy who could not walk, talk, hold his head up, control any limb of his body. But Yankie could smile and he could laugh. He radiated peace, tranquility, and happiness; because his body was merely a shadow of a body, it could not conceal the holy soul that occupied it. The purity of his soul shone through his eyes and had a powerful effect on everyone who knew him. He inspired love. He inspired people to devote themselves to helping others. And he taught everyone to look beyond the façade of a body and to see the Divine soul that is the essence of the person.

Chaya Sarah Silberberg serves as the rebbetzin of the Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, since 1975. She also counsels, lectures, writes, and responds for Chabad.org’s Ask the Rabbi service.
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inspired February 16, 2017

I am in middle of drying my eyes Reply

Telmo Cabrita Martins Porto February 14, 2017

What a beautiful story. Thank you! Reply

Anonymous December 26, 2016

wow! Reply

A child October 19, 2014

Amazing! Reply

Anonymous June 24, 2014

thank you Beautiful story Reply

Esther Sternberg Staten Island December 30, 2013

to the objectifying a person. Why are you so upset about the story? I almost can feel your anger! It just comes through your writing. No one is turning a person into an object. The story is a parable, metaphor, symbol. Don't you ever see a beautiful object that somehow reminds you of a person that you love, don't you ever see a flower, and think of of a child. Reply

Leni New Jersey August 8, 2013

A "romantic" notion? The story, far from being a "romantic" notion of those we consider not whole, shows us how each gives and receives. The can received water, it gave of its life force differently from the other can. HaShem fills us to the extent we allow, and we are blessed to receive and then give, of Him. I've worked with little children who are autistic and young children with disabilities. My own daughter is "cracked." Yet, she gives, just differently. This story reminds me of a quote attributed to none other than Groucho Marx who said: "Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light." And really, who among us isn't "cracked"? Reply

Yafa Plaut-Cappon Sacramento, California July 16, 2013

Every human that Hashem created has value in this world. We are his chosen people, and are an example for the rest of the world, not as favorites, but as teachers. A broken imperfect vessel that has overcome adversity is a much better teacher to those who are also broken. It gives one the ability to see suffering and pain in a new light, and therefore able to reach those who cannot believe that they too can be healed and live useful lives, and look to the future with hope. As one who has been broken, suffering constant pain and remembering these very important lessons, this story is pure inspiration and a reminder of my mission. Thank you! Reply

Binae Karpo Allentown,PA June 10, 2013

the broken boy I had a brother born 49 years ago that was Yankie(his name was shlomo) I was 2 at the time ..When he was born there wasn't the fan fare that goes along with a "normal child".,just a parade of doctors tellling my mom he was so broken and couldn't be fixed. I remember praying every night to Hashem to make my brother better.Then I saw the wonderful way he would light up a room with just his smile.I also saw first hand saw the change Shlomo(Steven) would bring to the people he came in contact with-a much level of compasion and understanding.Steven left this world at nineteen -and I truely feel the world is a better place because he was here.He was true innocence-now his soul is free .I learned alot from someone who never could utter one word! Reply

Jeanna New York March 15, 2013

wierd I don't understand this story. Reply

Karen Claudio Lowell, ma January 30, 2013

Beautiful! In life we will not always be perfect it is important to remember that we still have purpose. Reply

LYNDA CLEMONS December 10, 2012

Cracked Vessels. Everyone and Everything is for a REASON : Proverbs 16:4,5. Reply

ness79 Cebu, Philippines February 9, 2012

This story inspires me for there are times that I can't accept my own shortcomings. Upon reading this i realized everything exists for a reason. It maybe be small or big but it brings big changes into our lives if we know how to appreciate it. Reply

Rafi's Mom MInneapolis August 23, 2011

Objectifying a person I cannot accept this attitude, as it turns a person into an object to say that the person exists to bring out the best in others. It is based in pity and in trying to justify severe disability for its salutory effect on "normal" people. It makes a mockery of the fact that all are b'tzelem Elokim. Reply

grace santos Angeles City, Pampanga March 6, 2011

Everything that happens has definite purpose Praise God again! The Lord again fed me, strengthen me through this contemporary parable. Truly, everything that happens has definite purpose; but even if everybody has their own individuality, all of us share the same mission of existence, that is, to use our God-given life in God's special plans, in very ordinary ways... Let us live life in its fullness. Reply

Patricia Nordman DeLand, Florida January 20, 2011

Thank you! This is so beautiful and profound. Thank you for reminding us of our specialness! Reply

Anonymous tokyo, japan November 26, 2010

.... ...??? Reply

Girudel Postrero Pagadian, Philippines August 26, 2010

A Unique Person Most of the time, we believe ourselves that we can compete with others, but we always remember that a person is unique, we are different than others, we have different weaknesses and strengths that makes us happy and sad. We never forget that we are special creation made by God, accept what we are, even when problems and obstacles lie on our path. Go and be good to others, love one another, for these things are the most important in our life. Reply

Yocheved Hande Boca Raton, Florida May 21, 2009

Sometimes we feel like a cracked vessel. There are times when we feel broken and sad like the cracked bucket, but it is that very feeling that makes us vulnerable, human, and more compassionate to others. Very often, it is during these times that we are growing the most. Growing in our knowledge of ourselves, as well as growing closer to God. Accepting our own imperfections, and knowing that they are part of God's plan helps us to accept others as well. Reply

Linda Aiken, SC March 21, 2008

Cracked Vessels Thank you for this story.
Long before I knew her, my best friend had a child like Yankie. She always speaks of him so lovingly and about the love and light that came from him. When I read this article I knew I had to give it to her. We both stood there crying (tears of Joy) as she read it, because the light of his soul was with us. Reply

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