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THE GOOD BOOK

by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

The book fair under the big tent was an annual event which Jack looked forward to every year. Being a lover of the written word, he would excitedly purchase bargain books for under two dollars and load up his car with piles of paperbacks to bring back home. This year was no different.

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The book fair under the big tent was an annual event which Jack looked forward to every year. Being a lover of the written word, he would excitedly purchase bargain books for under two dollars and load up his car with piles of paperbacks to bring back home. This year was no different.

Careening up and down the lazily-designed aisles of books, Jack looked like a kid in a candy store. He had a big smile on his face, knowing that in just a few hours he would be snuggled up on his couch at home reading a good mystery novel or legal thriller from the book fair.

As he was perusing through a decrepit set of World Book Encyclopedias for $1.50, Jack caught glimpse of a man taking a book and walking out the back entrance of the tent without paying for it. Jack felt bad; the money raised from this book fair was used for charity and here was somebody taking advantage of the low security confines of the tent. About ten minutes later, Jack saw the same guy take another book. Ten minutes later, the man came back and took yet another book.

Although Jack knew that stealing was wrong, he couldn't help but feel a little frustrated. This guy was getting all these books for free, and here he was paying for a wagon full of books. The thought crossed his mind how simple it would be to just walk out of the back of the tent with a few books. With the money he would save, he could buy his daughter a new toy. The back entrance never looked so inviting.

It was at this point that Jack remembered a verse from this week's Torah portion: "You shall be holy" (Leviticus 19:2). Hashem is teaching the Jewish people that they are different; they are held up to a higher standard. Being G-d's chosen children, more is expected of us. Yes, it would be easy to walk out the back of the tent, but would that make Hashem proud?

Animals, by nature, are known for stealing. Hence, Abraham muzzled his sheep in an attempt to prevent this kind of theft. On the other hand, the human race was created b'tzelem elokim in the image of G-d, and more is expected of us. In addition, we, as Jews, are on a divine mission to be a light unto the nations, to set a standard of holiness which the rest of the world can emulate. As members of the Jewish people, we serve as ambassadors of G-d, and it is nothing less than a tragedy for us to make a chilul Hashem, to tarnish the reputation of our Creator. The Torah and its moral code, not the whims of a petty pocket thief at a county book fair, should serve as a barometer for our actions.

Despite being held accountable under G-d's scrutinizing magnifying glass, we should not be discouraged. Correcting our ways is a slow process of refinement. Judaism is not a fast food religion; it is a gourmet experience. We, as Jews, take the high road rather than relegate ourselves to the lowest common denominator of society.

With these thoughts in mind, Jack wheeled his wagon to the cashier at the front of the tent and paid for his books, knowing that he had not succumbed to temptation. By adhering to the lessons of the "good book" he had made Hashem a proud father.

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Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan and alumnus of Yeshiva Atlanta, is editor of Torah from Dixie.

You are invited to read more Parshat Acharei Mot articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

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