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Which is Best, Chocolate or Vanilla?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Shabbos morning, davening neitz (prayers at sunrise) at the Kotel (Western Wall in the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel), I noticed two new minyans (quorums) praying nearby.

     The closest one was made up of some 20 haredi (ultra-observant Jewish) boys in their late teens. The entire group was dressed in black. They wore the same style black coats, black hats, and black shoes. Only the boy who was reading the Torah, and the one who was called up to the Torah wore tallisim (prayer shawls). The entire group stood pressed against each other, squeezing in, trying to see the letters of the sefer Torah (scroll) as the reader read the weekly Torah portion out loud. Each of them was intent on seeing the holy script, word for word.

     Their lives are filled with learning Torah, mostly Talmud in depth, and tremendous respect for their rabbis, and the traditions that have been in their families for hundreds of years. I looked at them with great admiration for how they conduct themselves, and what they choose to do with their lives. Purity and holiness of Torah are their goals.

     A few yards from them was a minyan also of some 20 boys in their late teens. But these boys were all dressed in white; loose white pants and white shirts, and all of them had flowing, white tallisim. They wore white knitted yarmulkes and sandals without socks. These boys were singing and dancing in a large circle. Their love of Hashem and His Torah beamed from their faces as they circled around and around the table where their sephardisefer Torah stood waiting for the morning reading. You could not help but smile at their lives, their open love for G-d, and their genuine warmth.

     Which is the best way for a Jew to go; a charadi life filled primarily with the intellectual pursuit of Torah, or a “knitted kipa” (yarmulke) life filled with warmth, love of G-d, and love for the Land of Israel?

     They both are. It’s like ice cream. Which do you like better; chocolate or vanilla?

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