April 26, 2021, Israel
Two lessons stand out in my mind on the question of "Yes", from very different sources. My grandfather of blessed memory, Rabbi Isaac Klein, would always quote the Talmud, in Aramaic, Koach de hetairah adifa; the power, or ability, to permit is greater. This means that any ignoramus can say no. Is this permitted on the Sabbath? No! Is this food kosher? No!
When I was in school and many students came from less religious homes there was sometimes a question about whether a certain snack was kosher or not. The lunch room rabbi would say, "When in doubt - do without" and tossed the stunned students' lunch snack into the garbage. The power to permit, takes a true scholar. The automatic answer, "No" is the property of any fool.
Stories are told of righteous rabbis in Poland, and poor widowed women coming to them with a chicken they planned to cook for the Sabbath meal. Sometimes there was a question; is it kosher or not? The rabbi would spent an hour pondering the question and finally find a way to say "Yes". He never took the matter lightly as to not make the woman feel that the Kosher laws should be taken lightly. But he found a way to prevent her family from going hungry. The key is, he felt their pain, he felt their hunger.
The other lesson is from John Lennon. He was at art unusual Avantgarde art gallery. The artist was Yoko Ono. There was some contraption that one had to climb into, crawl through etc...and eventually one opened a door and found a little piece of paper with the word "Yes". Lennon not only wrote a song about this but married the woman. The message is the power of YES.
Yes is always more difficult than no. Yes involves actually doing something, making an effort. I know the feeling of the answer No. It is a dead-end, a locked door, darkness. But yes takes effort.
A man asks the rabbi, I would like to study for being a rabbi, do I have what it takes? He was told no. That was many years ago, the pain is still with him, no explanation was given.
The world is filled with dead ends but I do not want to become one of them. Today a 97 year old man asked me if he can learn Krav Maga, I said YES. He quickly learned a gun disarm.
Can you earn a black belt? The answer is Yes. It make take some time, it make take some effort, some sacrifice, but if you will it, it is not a dream, thus said Dr. Binyamin Herzl.
Yes is my answer.
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