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Where are the cards?

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

The inmates were playing cards, an activity strictly forbidden in prison. The guards were told of the game and came to inspect the cell, but they found nothing. As soon as the guards left, the inmates continued their game. The guards came again to inspect the cell and the inmates in it, but again they found nothing and left. Once again the cards appeared and the game continued. “How had the prisoners managed to hide their cards?” wondered Reb Mendel, an inmate watching this scene unfold time and time again.

• How do you think the inmates managed to hide the cards?

The men explained: “We are professional pickpocket-ers. As soon as the guard entered our cell, we slipped the cards into HIS pocket. Right before the guard left, we slipped the cards back out again. Obviously, it never occurred to the guard to check his own pockets . . .”

• What life-lesson can we learn from this story?

Often, when we make a spiritual, personal inventory, we instinctively look to place blame on those around us. “My parents are responsible,” or “my education is responsible,” we claim. We are also so quick to find the faults in others and to pinpoint the ways in which "they" should improve. But to really grow, perhaps we need to start by checking our own “pockets”…

• When you see a fault in another, very often this is a sign that you yourself have that fault. Try to remember this the next time you blame or point a finger. • What is ONE thing that you can try to work on to refine your character. Challenge yourself to work on this characteristic for at least the next 10 days.

(Reb Mendel Futerfas had been imprisoned for his “crime” of helping strengthen Jewish life in the Soviet Union. He would retell stories from his prison days, always taking lessons from the things he experienced.)

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