Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rabbi Shimon Ben Shatach and my Daughter, the (Petty) Thief

For those unfamiliar with the story of Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach, I quote (slightly adapted) from Wikopedia:
Rabbi Shimon's fairness toward non-Jews is illustrated by the following narrative: Rabbi Shimon lived in humble circumstances, supporting himself and his family by conducting a small business in linen goods. Once his pupils presented him with a donkey which they had purchased from an Arab. On the neck of the animal they found a costly jewel, whereupon they joyously told their master that he might now cease toiling since the proceeds from the jewel would make him wealthy. Rabbi Shimon, however, replied that the Arab had sold them the ass only, and not the jewel; and he returned the gem to the Arab, who exclaimed, "Praised be the God of Shimon ben Shetach!"
Each week I have Ricki’s aide read with her a story from our sages. This way she gains three things:
Reading practice
Familiarity with her heritage
The message of middos (character traits) contained within.
Last week, after Ricki claimed twice, falsely, that something was hers, I picked the story of Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach for her and the aide to study. Afterwards, she had a worksheet on the story, and she talked about it with her aide. She even promised that she will no longer try and pilfer borekas (knishes) from the grocery store. (This was something she is very tempted to do, but doesn’t anymore -in general- as a result of cooperation with the store and a detailed behavior plan.)
So imagine my consternation when that very same evening she went and took three (!!!) borekas when her music teacher wanted to buy her two. (I would have tapered it down to one--they are extremely fatting--- but that's an aside....)
It should be clear without saying, that there were serious consequences (not just words). Our sages say that real knowledge comes with 101 repetitions. I hope it won’t take that many


Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about Rabbi Shimon Ben Shatch, I am really impressed with the story, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog and the support. It is great to read about your family, your daughter!