Today I got a call from a nephew who left soccer stardom to study in a Bnai Brak yeshiva [see my Coca-Cola post below] and recently married a girl from there; now he’s in kollel.
One might think, how perfect!
Here is a tender couple, sheltered among family and friends in a hundred percent haredi neighborhood, learning torah without a care in the world.
Okay, so not exactly. They can’t pay the bills.
How do I know? If he needs money for sure he won’t tell me, since he knows we also don’t have money.
Well, he was talking about starting a business, and all he needs is three thousand shekels. There’s a wholesaler in Yavne with kippas and tzitziot, and 400 kinds of Judaic gifts, like challah boards and candlesticks.
Okay, that sounds pretty good if you have the money.
And then he explained no, that it’s not respectable in Bnai Brak to sell only kippas.
Because then he’s like a shopkeeper. So you get around the problem by selling arba minim**; esrogs are best because you can keep them in the refrigerator. That is what the torah scholars do: they sell arba minim, and only this is considered respectable.
This way you can sell kippas on the side.
Then he got the idea to sell cold drinks, since everybody is out in the hot sun examining the arba minim, and there’s nothing to drink.
Hey, great idea.
But it’s not respectable. You have to sell mainly arba minim, especially esrogs.
So why should people buy from you?
They need a cold drink, and he'll be the only one selling it; so while they are drinking they might as well buy arba minim; and why not save time and buy a kippa?
Yes but wait a minute; isn’t it risky to pay for a lot of expensive esrogs and, if you don’t sell them, all you get is esrog jelly?
Here he had to hang up. I grabbed the moment to shout, though I knew he wouldn't hear:
“Wait! Sell water or lemonade; not Coca-Cola. Please!!”*
* Bnai Brak and the Collapse of Coca-Cola
** 4 kinds of plant cuttings needed for the holiday of Succoth