Character Development

Goodwill – Choosing the correct course of action

Not all goodwill leads to good actions.

Some goodwill doesn't lead to any action, good or bad.

Some goodwill leads to bad consequences.

She Cut Her Finger Off….

Towards the end of the terrifying period of Communist control of Russia, a Jew, a new immigrant from Russia, came into the offices of the 'Chevra Kadisha' (undertakers). The man was very agitated. When he started to talk and explain his reason for coming, he burst into uncontrollable tears. The members of the 'Chevra Kadisha' gave him water to drink and waited patiently for him to calm down and speak.

After a while the man succeeded in telling his story.

He had been taken, like hundreds of thousands of others, to a Siberian work camp without having committed any offence. More than two years he had been a prisoner in the camp doing backbreaking labor.

Amazingly, at some stage he had been told that he had merited what many others had not merited – he was about to be released! Moreover, he had been given a visa to go to Israel!

He was overjoyed.

Just before he left the Siberian camp, he was called to the hospital in the camp. When he went there, worried and concerned, it transpired that this was no final satanic ruse of the authorities. The Jewish doctor who worked in the camp wanted to meet him before his release.

The doctor spoke tearfully, saying: “I am here for many years already and it doesn't seem like I will merit to leave here alive. Probably I will not merit a Jewish burial either. They will bury me with the rest of the prisoners who died here who are mainly non-Jewish. I heard that you are about to be released and are leaving Russia. I wanted to ask a favor of you.”

She stopped talking for a minute, went into the room next door and cut off a finger from her left hand. She came back in with the finger and cried aloud.

Please, take my finger to be buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem”, she said, “At least the finger will merit a Jewish burial…”

So said the man, and he took out of his pocket a wooden box covered with a cloth and on it was written in ink the name of the woman and her father. The members of the Chevra Kadisha were also crying by this point.

The pain was palpable.

Not just because of the suffering and pain of a Jewish woman in Siberia

Not just because of her awful fate as a terminal prisoner for crimes she did not commit.

Not just because of her fiery Jewish faith which did not have opportunities to be developed.

But also for the goodwill which brought her – due to her ignorance – to perform an act which is proscribed by the Torah.


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