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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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What Could Have Been

Mendel, a young Jew, comes to New York and applies for a job as a caretaker at the Brooklyn Synagogue. The synagogue committee is just about to offer him the job when they discover that he is illiterate. They decide that for many reasons, it would be inappropriate to have an illiterate caretaker.

So Mendel leaves and decides to forge a career in business. He chooses to sell plastic goods door to door. He does well and soon is able to buy a car, and later, to open a store, and then a second. Finally he is ready to open five more stores and so applies to the bank for a loan. But when the bank manager asks him to sign the contract, it's clear that he cannot write. Shocked to discover that this successful young man has had little education, the bank manager says, "Just think what you could have been if you had learned to read and write!"

"Yes," says Mendel, "I would be caretaker at the Brooklyn Synagogue."

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