Rabbi Label Lam
The Key To Something More
In order to get a perspective on the Chanukah story it might be helpful to
look through the prism of two Chanukah-like stories that are really the
same. Allow me to explain.
In Israel there is a man who at one time was Israel’s top comedian,
entertainer, actor etc. His name is Uri Zohar. In mid career he started to
study Torah and became a devoted scholar and educator. When I was in
Jerusalem I went to listen to him giving a local class to a small
group. At the end of the session he told this most amazing story. He had
recently received a surprise call from an old friend from the bohemian days
and he told us what it was that had motivated the call.
It was a Saturday afternoon, a Shabbos, and his friend like many others who
live unaware of the laws of Shabbos, found himself at the beach for a long
afternoon of frolic and fun. As the day was winding down he packed up his
stuff and made his way to the car. He reached into his pocket for the keys
but came up empty. So he searched the other pants pocket and became
concerned as realized the keys were not there either. His wife just
shrugged when asked if she had the keys.
They walked back to the place where their blanket had been, turned over the
trash can and retraced their steps a few more times before deep panic set
in. All the cars had already left the parking lot. The sun was a fiery
ball setting over the Mediterranean Sea and soon they would be standing
there in darkness.
In a fit of madness and desperation this man began to walk across the beach
to the ocean. (Uri got up from his chair with a dramatic flair to act out
the next episode.) He waded out into the sea up to his thighs and cried to
the heaven with all his being, "Elochim! Elochim! Give me my keys!" Just
at that moment, amazingly, the fellow became aware that there were his keys
floating atop the water and touching his leg. He returned the car shaken
and that night after Shabbos gave a call to his old friend Uri, asking,
"Where should I begin...Kashrus....Tefillin...Shabbos!?"
Now if that story sounds farfetched and on the other side of the ocean, I
heard the same story here in the New York area. A young family who had
recently started observing Torah and Mitzvos also registered their children
in Yeshiva a few months before this story happened. The father had taken
his children and a few others out to a large park in Riverdale, after
school for some recreation before homework dinner and bed.
When it came time to head home. Guess what!? He couldn't find his keys, in
either pocket. His son watched him anxiously as his father danced that
little jig one does when looking for keys. In a moment of inspiration the
young boy, only a few months new in the art of prayer, taught a lesson even
the great ones can learn from. He picked up his ball, the one he had just
been playing with and held it to his chest as one would a Psalms or a
prayer book and he said ever so sincerely, "Hashem, help my father find his
keys, please." Then he flung the ball aimlessly. When he went to pick up
the ball, amazingly, there was his father’s keys touching the ball.
We ought not to be too surprised that such an event can happen. We say
thrice daily in prayer the words of King David in Psalm 145, "Hashem is
close to all those who call Him, all who call to Him in truth." The answer
is different when the call is a call of truth. In the Chanukah story we
find a few good men able to overcome distant odds due to the sincerity of
When any part of hidden goodness is revealed even under pressure, and the
heart becomes pure with purpose, the response can be dramatic. Nothing is
lost in Hashem's world. The A-lmighty can find anyone and anything; a jar
of oil, a job, a kid, or a set of keys. So when what the person seeks most
urgently is delivered magically to his hands-he may have actually found the
key to something more.
Text Copyright © 2001 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.