the schmooze

"Moyde zayn zikh"
(to confess)

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Confession is good for the soul.  On Yom Kippur, we Jews collectively confess our sins and shortcomings.  It is a ritual catharsis that is supposed to lighten our burdens.

A Brooklyn bomb maker, who was charged with a spate of crimes against a Jewish neighborhood, confessed to spray-painting 23 swastikes on synagogues, homes and schools.  When Ivavlo Ivanov was asked why he did it, he said it was "bad judgment on his part."

Will Bernard Madoff confess to his Ponzi scheme?  Will he admit that he destroyed people's life savings?

Ben Stein ("Everybody's Business") confessed that "losing and making money are not moral issues so long as you are being honest...It is a myth that money determines who you are, and if you have gotten over that myth by now, then 2008 will have been a very good year."

Will our young adults confess that they have been paying $39.99 for a one-month membership to JDate?

Will Tina Fey confess to being called "mavericky" when she portrayed Gov. Sarah Palin on TV?

Did Ray Romano ("Everyone Loves Ramond") really confess in his book, "Everything and a Kite" that "...Italian and Jewish families in my neighborhood were very similar.  Especially the mothers.  The mother whose world revolved around food. Who believed any problem could be solved with food.  The mother who could never accept that you were actually full.

The only way I could have friends eat at my house was to brief them before they came over....Don't tell my mother you want a little more, it's going to get very tricky. Don't tell my mother you want a little more, because then she'll serve you a whole new meal.  If you want a little more, tell her you don't want ANY more.  Come right out and say, 'Boy, I'm full, I couldn't eat anything else.  Please, no more for me.'"

"Whatever you do, do it quick.  Don't hesitate.  As soon as you feel you've had enough to eat, just stand up and announce, 'I'm done.'  Then pull  gun out of your vest pocket.  "Put it back in the bowl, Mrs. Romano...nice and easy.  Now hand the spoon to Ray.  That's it, thaaaaaaat's it... Keep your hands where I can see them..."


Shoot her!  You have to shoot her.  And land one.  Don't graze her, that'll just piss her off.

She'll take a bullet and keep coming. There's no quit in her.  She won't just go down, she'll pass the food off to my aunt. That's always a fat aunt backing her up.

"Take this, Maria--he's a runner!  Feed him without me!"And on the topic of "confessions," Rabbi Paysach J.  Krohn has given me his permission to share his article titled, "Watch Out," taken from his book, "In the Spirit of the Maggid - Inspirational stories that touch the heart and stir the spirit" (published by Mesorah Publications, Inc.,  Read the entire book; it's WONDERFUL!


The groom, a rabbinical student, stood before his new bride and their friends at a celebratory feast and admitted how he was caught "red handed" with another's property.  But that was just the beginning.

At a recent Sheva Berachos party for a newly married couple held at the Mir Yeshiva (rabbinical college) in Jerusalem, a groom told a story that astounded the guests.

The young man had a stellar reputation as one who always did the right thing; hence his tale of something that happened in his youth was startling.  His interpretations of what transpired made the evening memorable.

In his talk, the groom thanked the family that hosted the Sheva Berachos, and spoke glowingly of his parents and his bride's family.  He spoke about the significance and responsibility of marriage, sprinkling his words with biblical verses and teachings of the Sages.  Finally he said he wished to speak of "a turning point" in his life.

It happened when he was in fifth grade.  A classmate, Naftali, came in one day showing everyone an expensive new watch he had just received as a gift.  His mother had warned him no to take the watch to school lest it get lost or broken, but he disobeyed. He wanted to show the fancy new watch to his friends and classmates.  At recess, with everyone running out to play ball, the boy too off his watch, and left it on his desk, so there would be no risk of scratching or breaking it during recess.

When he returned to class after recess, the watch was gone!  He let out a hysterical shriek.  How could he come home without the watch?  His parents would punish him severely.  There was no consoling the boy as he cried, begging his rebbi (spiritual mentor) to help him find the watch.

The rebbi, who had beens standing in the hallway for most of recess, was quite sure that no one had entered the classroom since recess began, neither the custodian nor boys from another class.  His instincts told him that it was a boy in his own class who had probably taken it on the way out or in from the playground.

The rebbi got everyone's attention and said, "I know that it may have been tempting for someone to take Naftali's watch.  We all saw that it was very beautiful and quite expensive.  However, we must get the watch back to him.  Did anyone here take it by mistake?  And if yes, would you like to return it?"

No one stirred as the boys nervously glanced around to see if anyone was admitting anything  The rebbi waited a few moments and said, "I guess I have no choice. I am going to ask all of you to stand up front, facing the wall and I am going to go through your pockets to see if it's there. But I am givng you one more chance to admit that you may have taken it by mistake.  Look, it can happen.  Someone just wanted to admire the watch so he may have picked it up and then inadvertently put it into his pocket."

Again no one said a thing.  The rebbi called up the boys and asked them to stand against the wall and not to turn around even for a moment until he gave them permission.  The groom's face turned red as he explained what happened next.

"I was the third boy in line.  Once everyone was in place he started going through the pockets of every boy, and he found the watch in mine.  I had been hoping against hope that he wouldn't find it, as I planned to return it to Naftali after school.  However, now the rebbi had the culprit.  I was shaking as I waited for him to shout at me, or express glee that he found it.

"Instead, he continued checking every single boy!  When he finished searching the last boy, he said, "You all can go back to your seats.  I have the watch."

"As I walked back to my seat I had to hold myself back from crying.  I understood what the rebbi did and how he saved me from being embarrassed.  He had continued the search so no one could figure out who had taken the watch.  As we sat down he didn't even look my way so no one could possibly have any inkling who the guilty party was. He resumed teaching.  I decided then and there that someday I would like to be like him."

The groom, a rabbinical student in one of the world's most prominent institutions of higher Jewish learning, indeed, became a wonderful person because his spiritual mentor protected his dignity and afforded him honor back in the fifth grade.  With that gesture, the rebbi laid the foundation for the validation of a student in a new generation so that he eventually would do the same for his children and disciples.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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