• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Sometimes, You Have To Ask -- An Old, Chassidic Tale


Every Friday morning after visiting the mikvah (ritual bath), a young man comes home to a million kinds of craziness. His little kids are running around screaming. His wife is knocking herself out in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning for Shabbos.


But what’s the first thing he does? He sits down, takes off his shoes and socks, and cuts his toenails.


As he does this week after week, his wife gets angrier and angrier, until one day she just can’t hold it in any longer. “You’ve been out all morning,” she scolds. “And when you finally get home, this is what you do? You can’t help with the screaming baby, the pots and the pans, and everything else going on? You can’t cut your toenails some other time?”


He answers, “Rebbe cuts his toenails when he comes home from the mikvah.” He is convinced that cutting your toenails after the mikvah is halacha (law).


His wife says, “Look. You go to the Rebbe, and you ask him if it’s halacha that you cut your toenails when you come home from the mikvah on Friday morning.”


Question the Rebbe? This poor young man is so intimidated by the idea. But eventually, he finally gets up the courage to have a conversation.

Question the Rebbe? This poor young man is so intimidated by the idea. But eventually, he finally gets up the courage to have a conversation.


“Rebbe,” he asks, full of trepidation. “Why do you cut your toenails when you come home from the mikvah on Friday mornings?”


The Rebbe answers, “Because they’re soft.”


Sometimes, you have to ask.


Asking questions to help us make decisions about what’s best for us is what having “the freedom to choose” is all about.


Asking questions to help us make decisions about what’s best for us is what having “the freedom to choose” is all about.

That’s why I encourage my students to ask questions. That’s why I ask them questions.


And that’s why we ask so many questions at Passover, which is a holiday all about freedom.


To those observing, I wish you a chag kasher v’sameach!


To all of us, here’s to the freedom to ask all the questions we want.


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