#548 (s5768-38 / 22 Iyar 5768)

The Impossible Defense

Remember the circus car with the seemingly infinite number of clowns pouring out of it? Here is the Jewish version.

The Impossible Defense

Yerachmiel Tilles


Remember the car in the circus with the seemingly infinite number of clowns pouring out of it? Here is the Jewish version.

An Israeli whose name we can't recall so we'll call him Yinon, set off to see the world upon completion of his three years of compulsory army services, like so many of his contemporaries. Finding himself in Canada and desperately in need of funds, he took a series of odd jobs in order to meet expenses. Eventually he acquired an old, used small van and hired himself out to do various sorts of deliveries.

Among his clients were the parents of a few children in the local Jewish Day School, who needed private transportation to bring their children to and from the school each day. Yinon enjoyed doing this and liked the kids, while the kids just loved him and the parents were thrilled to have a genuine Israeli as their driver.

Word spread, and a few more sets of parents signed on. Soon his miniature school bus was filled to capacity. But the requests continued to pour in. "Why not?" shrugged Yinon, and hoped he wouldn't be stopped by the police. At first he taught some of the children to quickly duck to the floor when ever he called out "maher" ("Quick!"), but after a bit more time had passed, he was up to 32 (!) little passengers, so the floor also became regular seats and there was no longer anywhere to hide.

The inevitable happened. A policeman stopped his decrepit looking van for any one of a number of possible violations of vehicle requirements. When the cop looked in the window he did a double take. "I can't believe this! How many children do you have in there?" He began to count. Shaking his head and double checking his total, he wrote Yinon a summons to court and a huge fine.

A few months later the day of the trial arrived. Yinon never bothered to arrange a lawyer. What conceivable defense could he possibly offer? His only hope-and his friends told him it was a reasonable one--was that the policeman would not show up for the trial. Then the case would have to be cancelled.

No such luck. Yinon immediately recognized the policeman when he entered, and it was clear as soon as his testimony began that he remembered Yinon and his van quite well.

The judge was horrified to hear about 32 children in a small van that was licensed for eight passengers only. He queried the policeman if he was positive about the number, and the man insisted that he was absolutely sure and prepared to take an oath. He then lectured Yinon briefly and asked him if he had anything to say for himself.

Yinon felt the walls closing in. But suddenly he had an inspiration. "Your honor," he called out firmly, "the whole idea is impossible to grasp. Thirty-two children in one small van! Come on, can you really picture such a far-fetched scenario?!” Doesn't it sound ludicrous?"

The judge had to admit it was indeed difficult to imagine. He ordered a court official to arrange a test with the principal of the nearby public school. Yinon would bring his van, and the policeman would see how many children volunteers he could fit into it.

It turned out to be quite a frustrating experience for the policeman. No matter how many sequences and patterns of loading he tried, including a bit of forceful squeezing, he couldn't even come close to 32, or even 22. It was clear to all the official and unofficial observers that it was patently impossible to get such a large number of children into such a small van.

The judge pounded his gavel. "Case dismissed."

Outside the court, the policeman confronted Yinon. "Look, you know and I know you had 32 kids in your van. Yet it seems to be impossible. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. How did you do it?"

"Simple, my friend," Yinon answered instantly. "My children, every single one of them, wanted to be in my van, and wanted to be there together with all the others. They love their friends and love their school. Yours, apparently, do not."

As overheard by Yerachmiel Tilles being told by Yossi Daniels, a popular lecturer in the Hebrew programs at Ascent.

Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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