Fools' Names and Monkeys' Faces
Three Little Stories to Encourage You

Photo by  Andre Mouton  on  Unsplash

Readers of our Facebook page or newsletter don't do so for socialization. We primarily post weekly Torah portion studies, notify of upcoming events or new books, give orphanage updates, or mark Shabbat and the feasts. It's not because I'm anti-social (although some may disagree :), but to keep the page and the newsletters fairly clean in purpose. You know what to expect. On a really wild day, I'll post Frenchie videos, but not usually.

My mom used to tell me about graffiti and restroom writers: 

"Fools' names, like monkeys' faces, always seen in public places." 

That maxim was probably from the era of traveling circuses, but it stuck. I was way behind when I started school, and I couldn't read until the end of first grade. In my excitement at learning to write my name, I scratched my initials into a church pew. I'd forgotten about the monkeys.

I had to apologize to the pastor and his wife, and my dad took me to the church and supervised my sanding the initials from the wood and re-staining it, but it would never look the way it did because a monkey had sat there. I was humiliated, but I never wrote my name on something that didn't belong to me again. To this day, I feel funny signing a group greeting card or seeing my picture or name posted publically. My parents' lesson was that you can pursue a good life without leaving your name everywhere, especially on other people's things.

It's to you, that kind of reader, to whom I'd like to pay a compliment. You're a serious student, spiritually maturing. You're probably not a promiscuous internet user because you're not addicted to the all-day little dopamine releases from gossipy or contentious posts. You find places to learn, not to be entertained under the guise of learning. You don't waste countless hours posting on and debating political or religious topics, because at the end of the day, no one is spiritually transformed, enlightened, or healed, only more agitated or hopeless. If you have a Facebook page, it isn't 90% selfies.

So here it comes...and just remember, I don't give compliments're a wonderful student of the Word. The Father has to be so pleased with you. Pirkei Avot 1:15 says, 

"Make your Torah study a fixed practice; say little and do much; and greet everyone with a cheerful countenance."

Rabbi Twerski, who is also a psychiatrist, related the story of another physician. The physician was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. To his surprise, Rabbi Twerski found out that the physician attended AA meetings THREE TIMES PER DAY. This is nearly impossible with a busy medical practice. Rabbi Twerski asked him, "Don't you have office hours?"

The doctor answered, "Yes, in between AA meetings. You see, if I don't attend three meetings a day, I will drink again, and I won't have an office at all." Whatever it took to stay sober came first, and everything else was secondary.

Rabbi Twerski goes on to write, "That is how it must be with Torah. The study of the Torah must come first, and everything else should fit within that framework. If this priority is observed, one will find more time for Torah study than if one squeezed Torah study into a busy schedule." (Twerski in Ethics of the Fathers, p. 58)

To those who cling to the Word, it falls to us to become the best students we can be, not monkeys. You, as the serious student of the Word, have set aside a time for study. You have not worked it around your schedule, but you've worked your schedule around your fixed time of study.


The doctor was honest enough with himself to admit that without AA accountability for his addiction, he wouldn't even have a practice, so he worked his medical practice around AA. If this is true of a physical addict, then how much more should a disciple of Yeshua acknowledge that without the testimony of Yeshua and the commandments of Adonai, he or she has no work or family? Those things that we place above the Word will fall into dysfunction eventually.

I'm too young to remember, but my cousin Carol told me that when she was a little girl visiting my Grandfather and Grandmother's house, everyone, even visitors, were expected to participate in a DAILY morning devotional of Bible reading and prayer. If you were staying there on Sunday, you attended church with them. Period. They did not orbit around changes in schedules and visitors, but the workday activities and visitors orbited around their fixed times of study and worship.

Be encouraged, serious students of Yeshua. You have set aside a time, whether it's daily, in our weekly online Torah class, or on Shabbat, to study the Word. Stick to it! You're running well! Good job! You're sober! Know that your fixed time of study is bringing stability to your life. Every Torah cycle is plunging you deeper and lifting you higher in understanding, you're stretching in every direction of wisdom and counsel. Unlike bathroom graffiti, you grow in knowledge and power in the Word. 

You are finding that you can speak healing through accurate, cheerful, and graceful applications of the Word into your family, friends, co-workers, or schoolmates. How wise is the counsel even of a Godly child who, like Timothy, was brought up in the Holy Scriptures by his mother and grandmother. Children are not fooled; they know if Bible study and prayer is the focus of your schedule or an addendum.

Your self-imposed accountability to the Word and prayer is the foundation of your daily, weekly, and yearly schedule. Without that, you have no schedule, only a repetitive sense of chaos. Life may be busy, but without a commitment first to study and pray, and only then to work, life will only become busier and less fulfilling. A name might appear in lots of public places, but in the final accounting, what will the name stand for? A light that shined, or monkeyshines?

Multiplied blessings upon you and your continued studies to draw near the Father and His Word. I'll be departing for Israel tomorrow, so newsletters may be delayed depending upon wifi service. Happy Chanukkah, and I'll try to post some pictures from Jerusalem soon.

Photo by  Aaron Burden  on  Unsplash