Once upon a time there were two students in the yeshiva who were trying very hard. The magid shiur, though, only seemed to notice one of them, he’d praise his gemarakup, his hasmadah and his good looks and he’d constantly remind the good bochur that he’ll grow up to be a rosh yeshiva if he continued on this path.
The second bochur, whose name was Kessler, just couldn’t seem to keep up with the masmid on any of these fronts, but he did so want to grow up to be a rosh yeshiva, certainly that was the best way he knew of succeeding in this world (and the next, of course) so he kept at it.
The masmid was on time for shacharis, had his tefilin on before brachos and davened for the amud three times a week.
Kessler tried to pay attention when his chavrusah explained the gemara for the fourth time but was out the door the minute he heard of a situation brewing in the coffee room.
When the two friends got through the freezer and the masmid was beset by shadchanim offering him chashuveh shidduchim while Kessler was getting offered plebeian shidduchim, Kessler knew he hadn’t made it. He began to scheme and plot, he knew his only way out of a life of an oppressed balabos was to make it to the rabbninate, or strike it rich, but he didn’t put his chances at achieving either one of those very high. So he married rich.
After his wedding the masmid remained in kollel for five years until he knew the yeshivishe masechtos, and every R’ Boruch Ber on them, by heart and he was fairly burned out. He accepted a 9th grade rebbe position and was quite satisfied that he was on his way to becoming the rosh yeshiva he so wanted to be.
Kessler became the administrator at a yeshiva. When he grew in his beard he began putting on airs and calling himself Rabbi Kessler, but no one paid him any heed. He got involved with bikur cholim and tomche shabbos, he was at meetings with local politicians, he met with wealthy Jews and went to the Jewish Federation dinners but still no one called him Rabbi and that bugged him.
One day he heard about a rebbi in his school who might have molested a kid. This was a job for him, he knew just what to do. He met with the kid’s parents and assured them he’d take care of it, he met with the wealthy Jews and told them about the threat facing the school, the shuls and the whole community, they quickly pitched in and he paid the parents for their silence.
People began to respect him as a rabbi.
One day he heard about a woman whose husband had gone OTD. He knew he was the man for this job. He invited her over for a shabbos meal and told her he’d take care of it. He told her to stop seeing her therapist and gave her a new one instead – one that would share all information with him and whom he could control. He hired lawyers and had her put a restraining order on her husband, he brought rabbis to her house and had them give her chizuk to shore up her wavering feelings towards this nasty divorce in the making, he called Chaveirim and told them to keep an eye on the house to make sure the husband didn’t show up, he sued the husband for full tuition and was happy that he’d improved the financial prospects for the school.
And when the husband committed suicide he knew he’d finally earned the title he so badly wanted.
Moral: Sometimes the long way around gets you there.
*with apologies to George Ade
Find out more about Dessler at 4torah.com