The background for this story is that we went to Simchat Torah services tonight. Since it’s a weeknight and lots of people were coming straight from work, the congregation ordered pizza and we had dinner before services. And while we were getting ready, the half dozen or so kids in attendance were chasing each other around in circles.
One of the members of the congregation gave me this learning as a gift. R said that he had been studying a section of talmud with a partner, and that they had worked through a long section about what you should do if you’re praying, and need to use the bathroom. In particular, the rabbis addressed the question of if you’re wearing tefillin and you need to use the latrine, what should you do with the tefillin. If you wear them into the latrine, it seems disrespectful, but what if you leave them outside and they’re lost? The rabbis concluded that it was better to somewhat disrespect the teffilin than risk that they be lost.
So, R said, he and his partner were trying to figure out what lesson they could take from this section of talmud. And they concluded that maybe the children of the congregation were like the tefillin. Better that the purity of the ritual be somewhat compromised, than risk that they be lost from the community…