Commentary Magazine


The Eternal Light Joke

Nothing Finish

 

The rabbi and the synagogue president are having a meeting in the sanctuary. In the back of the room, a hired hand is mopping up the floor. They are discussing the synagogue’s finances and whether to buy a new plot of land for a second parking lot.

The rabbi suddenly looks up at the ner tamid, the eternal light that hangs above the Ark containing the sacred Torah scrolls. He is filled with shame that he should be talking about money in a spiritual place. He falls prostrate to the floor. “Oh, Lord,” he says, “I am nothing! I am nothing!”

The synagogue president watches the rabbi and figures, well, you’re supposed to do what the rabbi does, so he also falls to the floor.

“Oh, Lord, I am nothing!” he shouts.

The janitor sees this, and a great feeling enters his heart. His eyes well with tears. He drops his mop and runs to the front.

“Oh, Lord,” he cries, “I am nothing!”

The synagogue president elbows the rabbi, who is lying next to him. “Hey, rabbi,” he says, “look who thinks he’s nothing.”

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