Friday, July 29, 2016

Suppose You Call a Sheep's Tail a Leg

The goal of this blog is to enhance reality at the Shabbat table....
In memory of my father - Dovid ben Eliezer - who's 11th yahrzeit will be Monday, August 1.

LincolnThey say the following riddle was really said by Avraham Lincoln:

Suppose you call a sheep's tail a leg - how many legs does it have?

The answer, of course, is four.

Calling a tail a "leg" does not make it a leg.

Or does it?

Lincoln reminds me of my father (tall, beard, bow-tie, wry humor, lawyer)....

And my father reminds me of his generosity.

And generosity reminds me of this true story with a moral dilemma - how would you (and the folks at your table) answer it?
Mordechai (not his real name) was a very wealthy philanthropist. One day Shlomo, a needy member of the community came to him to ask for his help with a pressing family matter that required a substantial financial obligation. Mordechai was very distracted by an overload of work but had sympathy on Shlomo and gave him a check with a generous donation. Shlomo left thanking Mordechai profusely for his generosity.

Some time later Shlomo went to deposit the check. He then saw the problem: the numeric box had the amount $300. But the written amount said “three thousand dollars”. Shlomo assumed that the latter was the correct amount (remember, Mordechai was very wealthy and very generous), and attempted to deposit $3,000. The bank teller didn't know what to do and called the bank manager. The bank manager happened to know Mordechai. She called him up to ask him which amount he intended to give to Shlomo. “Is it $300 or $3,000? You can decide now, how much do you want to give, sir," the manager told him.

Mordechai rememebered giving Shlomo the check, but couldn’t recall which amount he had wanted to give. It was clear that he made an error, but he couldn’t remember if his error was that he left out a 0 in 3,000, or wrote the word thousand instead of hundred. Moreover, in his haste he had neglected to write it in his check ledger. That day Mordechai's cash flow happened to be slightly more limited, and he preferred to give $300, but he didn’t want to renege on his commitment if he meant to donate $3,000. Mordechai wondered if he is he obligated to give the larger number.

What do you think is Mordechai’s obligation?

And what would you do?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Still time to help you favorite teacher or school -

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