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A Gangster Remembers

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A Gangster Remembers
Provided by Revach L'Neshama (

Revach L'Neshama

In the beginning of the twentieth century, a Jewish boy in Chicago lost his father at an early age, and ended up growing up on the streets. Eventually, he became a gangster, and in time became the leader of his gang. One morning, he and his gang were about to carry out a daring robbery which he himself had planned. Suddenly, this Jewish gangster changed his mind not only about committing the robbery itself, but about his entire life of crime. That morning, he abruptly walked away, leaving his gang and his life of crime permanently behind him.

What had changed his mind? The former Jewish gangster revealed the answer in an article he authored. That morning, an early childhood memory of stealing an apple from a pushcart had suddenly entered his mind. When his father found out about it, he put him on his lap and tearfully said, "The Torah says, ‘Lo signov, do not steal,'" and then slapped him. Twice more, he tearfully repeated the same words and slapped him.

The gangster had remembered this scene in vivid detail that morning, picturing in his mind's eye the anguish on his father's face. This picture was enough to jolt him out of his life of crime, and lead him to a more honest and productive period of life.

"To hit or not to hit" that is not the question. The question is, "How will our children remember the way we punished them?"

Revach L'Neshama
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