In June, 2002, after the British musical group the Planets introduced a 60-second piece of complete silence on its latest album, representatives of the estate of composer John Cage, who once wrote 4′ 33″ (273 seconds of silence), threatened to sue the group for ripping Cage off, but failed, he was unable to specify which 60 of the 273 seconds it thought had been pilfered. Said Mike Bart of the Planets, “Mine is a much better silent piece. I am able to say in one minute what took Cage 4 minutes and 33 seconds.”
I am in yoga class, in full lotus position. My chakras are all aligned, my mind is clear of all clatter, I’m looking out of my third eye and everything else that I’m supposed to be doing. It’s amazing what comes up when you sit in silence, “Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama’s got the magic of Clorox 2.”
Two beggars are sitting on a park bench in Mexico City. One is wearing a cross and one a Star of David. Both are holding bowls to solicit contributions. People walking by ignore the man wearing the Star of David but drop money in the bowl held by the man wearing the cross.
Soon, the bowl of the man wearing the cross is filled, and the bowl of the man wearing the Star of David remains empty. An onlooker watches and then approaches the men. He turns to the man wearing the Star of David and says: “Young man. Don’t you realize that this is a Catholic country? You’ll never get any contributions in this country wearing a Star of David.” The man wearing the Star of David turns to the man wearing the cross, and says: “Moishe, can you imagine, this guy is trying to tell us how to run our business.”
When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as he was driving to yet another dinner engagement, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks and manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.
“I have an idea, boss,” his chauffeur said. “I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you.” Einstein laughed loudly and said, “Why not? Let’s do it!”
When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and even answered a few questions expertly.
Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool.
Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, “Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me.”
As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering it he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on the Interstate. Please be careful!”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed,” said Herman, “but you wouldn’t believe it. It’s not just one car, it’s hundreds of them!”
A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau took an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. Every day she looks out and sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously.
The journalist goes down to the wall and introduces herself to the old man. She asks him: “You come to the wall every day. How long have you done this and what are you praying for?”
The old man replies, “I have come here to pray every day for 25 years. In the morning I pray for world peace and then for the brotherhood of man. I go home have a cup of tea and I come back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.”
The journalist is amazed, and asks, “How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for these things?”
The old man looks at her sadly, “Like I’m talking to a wall.”
A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. All of a sudden he said out loud, “Lord grant me one wish.”
Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and in a booming voice, the Lord said, “Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.”
The man said, “Build a bridge to Hawaii, so I can drive over anytime I want to.”
The Lord said, “Your request is very materialistic. Think of the logistics of that kind of undertaking-the supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of another wish, a wish you think would honor and glorify me.”
The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, “Lord, I have been married and divorced four times. All of my wives said that I am uncaring and insensitive. I wish that I could understand women. I want to know how they feel inside, what they are thinking when they give me the silent treatment, why they cry, what they mean when they say ‘Nothing,’ and how I can make a woman truly happy.”
After a few minutes God answered, “You want two lanes or four on that bridge?”
Four Catholic women are having coffee together. The first one tells her friends, “My son is a Priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him ‘Father’.”
The second one chirps, “My son is a Bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, everyone calls him ‘Your Grace’.”
The third Catholic woman says smugly, “My son is a Cardinal. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him ‘Your Eminence’.”
The fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence. The first three women all ask, “Well . . .? She replies, “My son is 6′ 2″, a hard-bodied stripper. When he walks into a room, people say, ‘Oh, my God’.”
Morris and Esther, an elderly Jewish couple, are sitting together on an airplane flying to the Far East. Over the public address system the Captain announces: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news: Our engines have ceased functioning, and this plane will be going down momentarily. Luckily, I see an island below us that should be able to accommodate our landing. This island appears to be uncharted; I am unable to find it on our maps. So the odds are that we will never be rescued and have to live on the island for a very long time, if not for the rest of our lives.”
A few minutes later the plane lands safely, whereupon Morris turns to his wife and asks, “Esther, did we pay our pledge to the Yeshiva yet?”
“No Morris!” she responded.
Morris smiles, and then asks, “Esther, did we pay our yearly Temple fees?”
“Oh no, I forgot to send the check!”
Now Morris laughs.
Esther asks Morris, “So what are you smiling and laughing about?”
Morris responds, “Now I know they’ll find us!”
A Jewish businessman was in a great deal of trouble. His business was failing; he had put everything he had into the business. He owed everybody. It was so bad he as even contemplating suicide. As a last resort he went to a Rabbi and poured out his story of tears and woe.
When he had finished, the Rabbi said, “Here’s what I want you to do: Put a beach chair and your Bible in your car and drive down to the beach. Take the beach chair and the Bible to the water’s edge, sit down in the beach chair, and put the Bible in your lap. Open the Bible; the wind will rifle the pages, but finally the open Bible will come to rest on a page. Look down at the page and read the first thing you see. That will be your answer that will tell you what to do.”
A year later the businessman went back to the Rabbi and brought his wife and children with him. The man was in a new custom-tailored suit, his wife in a mink coat, the children shining. The businessman pulled an envelope stuffed with money out of his pocket, gave it to the Rabbi as a donation in thanks for his advice.
The Rabbi recognized the benefactor, and was curious.
“You did as I suggested?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” replied the businessman.
“You went to the beach?”
“You sat in a beach chair with the Bible in your lap?”
“You let the pages rifle until they stopped?”
“And what were the first words you saw?”
Four young novice nuns were about to take their vows. They were dressed in their white gowns. They came into the chapel where the mother superior was waiting for them for the ceremony to marry them to God.
In front of them on the table were the four rings. Just as the ceremony was about to begin, four Hassidic men with their yarmulkes, pais and long beards came in and sat in the front row.
The mother superior said to them. “I am honored that you would want to share this experience with us but do you mind if I ask you why you came and if you know anybody here?” They replied: “We’re from the groom’s side.”
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun in charge made a note and posted on the apple tray, which read: “Take only one. God is watching.”
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. Just in front of the cookies, a child wrote a note saying, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”