David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Censorship, Charity, Children


• The Rabbi of Smargon, R’ Menasheh of Iliya, became aware that Jewish children were being kidnapped by the Jewish leaders of the town and handed over for service in the Czarist army so that the town could meet its quota. Therefore, R’ Menasheh called a public meeting, in which he said, “One who can kidnap a Jewish child and hand him over to the authorities is not worthy of being called a Jew.” Afterward, the community leaders told him that he had no right to speak publicly on such a topic. R’ Menasheh said, “If that is so, I cannot be your Rav.” And he immediately resigned as rabbi.

• In the days before typewriters and word processors, Menashe Illyer wrote in longhand a controversial religious book, which he titled Alphei Menasheh and then took to a printer. The printer set in type the first few pages, but then he discovered that he disagreed with the contents of the book, so he burned it.


• Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, aka the Singing Rabbi, once filled in at short notice at a Lag B’Omer concert when the star attraction broke his foot and was not able to appear. Because the concert organizer wanted so much to have someone of Rabbi Shlomo’s stature at the concert, a deal was made that Rabbi Shlomo would be paid all the money that was collected at the door, minus the expenses of the concert. The concert was a success, and at its end, Rabbi Shlomo was handed $2,700 in cash, something he was happy to receive because of his chronically being broke. However, a young man came in to ask Rabbi Shlomo for a blessing on his marriage, and Rabbi Shlomo asked why he needed such a thing. The young man had started to observe the Sabbath, and because of this he had lost his job, and the lack of money was starting to affect his marriage. Immediately, Rabbi Shlomo reached into his pocket, took out the $2,700 in cash, and gave it to the young man.

• Comedian Eddie Cantor was known for his fund-raising. A Jew, he raised much money for Israel, but he also raised much money for many other worthy projects. Groucho Marx knew him and his reputation for fund-raising. At the Hillcrest Club, Groucho heard that Mr. Cantor had been in for lunch. Groucho asked, “What time did Cantor say he was going to save the world?”

• Writer Peg Bracken saw this sign over an alms box in an Aix-en-Provence chapel: “For the poor, the sick, the ashamed ….”


• When Lhamo Dhondrub was two years old, a series of tests was given to him to determine if he was the Dalai Lama, who was believed to be reincarnated each time he died. Some of the tests consisted of offering the baby the choice of a number of objects, only one of which had belonged to the previous incarnation of the Dalai Lama. Each time, the baby chose the object that had belonged to the previous incarnation of the Dalai Lama, although the other objects were often newer, more colorful, and shinier. In one test, the baby hesitated before choosing one of two nearly identical walking canes. The first cane had belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, but he had given it away as a gift. The second cane had belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, and he had used it until his death. The baby chose the second cane. As a result of the tests, the baby was declared the 14th Dalai Lama, and he was renamed Tenzin Gyatso.

• Drought is often a problem in Uvalde, Texas, where Msgr. Vincent Fecher is a Catholic priest. One day, he saw a small child, and he asked her if she was praying for rain. Surprised, she said no, and Father Vincent told her, “You ought to. Jesus listens to little kids like you. So when you say prayers tonight, tell Him that people around here are starting to complain because He hasn’t sent them any rain so far this year.” The little girl promised Father Vincent that she would pray for rain. That night, rain fell — and it fell all the following day, and the day after that, and the day after that. Father Vincent looked at the rain, and he thought, “That darned kid. I had better find her and turn her off, before she drowns the whole lot of us.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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