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Story: Put the Fire Out!

Friday, August 31st, 2012 11:56 am by admin

Put the Fire Out!

Once there was a man who sold buttons. He went from town to town talking to people and selling buttons. This man’s name was Moishe, and he loved to travel. He liked selling his buttons, but most of all he loved learning things like how different people said hello in other places, what they ate for breakfast in the next town over, or how they decided big, important things – like where to build a school or how to help each other out in times of trouble.

One day, he reached a town called Plotchk late at night and decided to stay over at an inn. He awoke, surprised, in the middle of the night, to the sound of lound drums banging. Even stranger, he heard people get up from their beds to leave the inn. “How strange,” he thought to himself, and went back to sleep.

The next morning, he asked the innkeeper what had happened. The innkeeper replied, “In our town we have a system: whenever there is a fire we all beat the drum so everyone knows there’s a fire.”

This amazed Moishe. “What an amazing way to communicate!” he exclaimed, “I will teach it to my people back in our town.”

And he did. From that time on, every time there was a fire, Moishe went out and beat the drum. Everyone woke up when they heard the drums, left their homes, and came to the center of town. But still, buildings kept burning down.

One day, a visitor arrived from Plotchk, that same town where Moishe had first heard the drum. Moishe was very excited to tell the visitor all he had learned about drums and announcing fires.

Sure enough, there was a fire that night. Sure enough, Moishe beat his drum and everyone came out to the center of town. And sure enough, the building that was on fire burned right to the ground.

“What is this strange custom you taught our Moishe?” they all asked the visitor. “He beats the drums to announce a fire, but still our buildings burn down. What’s the point of beating the drum if the buildings still burn down?”

“No, you silly people!” cried the visitor, “You’re missing the most important thing. In Plotchk, when we hear the drum, we all gather together, find the fire, and PUT THE FIRE OUT. Hearing the drum is only the first part – it tells you there’s something burning. The second part is actually going and putting the fire out.”


For us on Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is like Moishe’s fire. When we hear the shofar, that’s the first part. The second part, the part that helps us to make a better world, is when we use our own two hands to make things better.

The shofar helps us to notice all the things that need fixing in the world – and then it’s up to us to go out and DO something!

Shana Tova U’metukah – a happy and sweet year.

Adapted by Chana Rothman

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Chana Rothman is a musician, educator,
songwriter, and activist based
in Brooklyn.

www.chanarothman.com www.myspace.com/chanarothman

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Posted in Activities for home and classroom, Holidays, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Stories