There’s an old Jewish joke that goes like this: A revered rabbi, famous for his goodness and wisdom, dies and ascends to heaven. Such is his reputation that God Himself slides over to welcome the new arrival and ask him what heavenly reward he would like for a life well-lived.
The rabbi considers this.
“Well,” he says. “The journey was long, and I am hungry. So a roll. Yes, a fresh challah roll. That is what I want.”
The Lord is amazed, and remarks to his angels: “See the pious simplicity of this holy man! He is offered the riches of heaven by God Almighty, and asks only for a roll.”
The Lord turns back to the rabbi.
“Truly, rebbe, is there nothing else you would like besides a challah roll?”
“Well . . . ” says the rabbi, musing, “a little butter would be nice.”
That isn’t the funniest joke, but it’s sweet. Which is why it comes to mind when I think of Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, who was regional director of Chabad in Illinois, the Illinois representative of the Lubavitch movement. It wasn’t so much that he was learned — he certainly was — or active, both within his community and as a liaison to the world beyond, promoting his brand of faith in an endless chain of services, events, celebrations, seminars, lunches.
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