You’re invited to a specially catered kosher dinner at Buckingham Palace, with the entire royal family in attendance. You are introduced to the Prince of Wales. You make a small bow and introduce yourself. The Prince replies in a thick Cockney accent, “Whooo-hoooo! Great to meet a real live American Jew! Wanna join me and my friends for a poker game after supper?”
Why is it that, somewhere deep inside you, you doubt that this is really the prince? Could it be that he doesn’t speak like one?
The Rosenbergs accepted their cousins’ invitation for Shabbos lunch, but Eli Rosenberg wasn’t happy about it. His family was accustomed to an upbeat atmosphere with good conversation that centered on Torah and veered off into the children’s stories about school, current events, funny family stories and so on. His cousin, on the other hand, loved to dish the dirt.
That week at the cousins’ table, the conversation was just what Eli feared: a critique of the rabbi’s speech; snide remarks about the various neighbors and congregants the cousins had seen in shul; the children’s nasty impressions of their classmates and so forth.
No one mentioned it as the Rosenbergs walked home from their cousins’ house. Then five-year-old Danny spoke up. “Is cousin Yehuda’s food kosher?” he asked.
“Of course, Danny! Why would you ask that?” his father answered.
“’Cause it doesn’t feel like a Jewish place,” he answered simply.
Our Jewish neshama, the Divine spark that sets us apart, gives us royal status. Someone who “dishes the dirt” is like a pauper in prince’s clothing. He might look the part, but from the moment he opens his mouth, he casts doubt on his identity.