19 Iyar 5779 / Friday, May 24, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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Old Charlie the Gatekeeper    

Old Charlie the Gatekeeper

What was the secret of the town's success? How did everyone get along with everyone else and why did people love visiting and doing business there?


Everyone in town loved Old Charlie. He wasn't that old – maybe in his mid-fifties at most – but no one could ever remember a time when Old Charlie didn't man his post as gatekeeper at the entrance of town…


What did the town need a gatekeeper for?


If you lived in a town with no crime, no sicknesses, no strife or arguments, no poverty and nothing but happy citizens, young and old, you'd want it to stay that way and prevent any undesirable elements from entering your town. That was the secret of Charliesville. Ever since the town was founded, a gatekeeper manned the one entrance to town and filtered the folks who entered the town. Charlie was fifth generation gatekeeper, like his daddy, granddaddy, great- and great-great granddaddies before him. Gatekeeping was a family tradition and they were successful at it. Since the town didn't have to pay a sheriff or police force, it could afford to pay a healthy salary to the gatekeeper. Since he had no financial worries, he could concentrate on his job, which he did with dedication. Everyone knew that the town's success was in no small measure by virtue of the gatekeeper.


Charliesville was in a beautiful rolling-green hill area between two large cities. Most people who passed by the town were heading for one of those two cities, but they'd stop in Charliesville to eat a meal or spend the night while en route.


Charlie would greet every visitor. "Howdy, stranger," he'd say with a warm smile. "What can I do for you?"


The stranger would invariably ask about Charliesvile's traveler services – the inns, the restaurants or the gas stations. "How're the folks in Charliesville?" the stranger would ask.


Charlie's stock question was, "How're the folks in your hometown, my friend?"


Some people would answer, "Where we come from, you have to be careful. People aren't so friendly. They'll rip you off if they have a chance – they're out for themselves."


"You won't like Charliesville," Charlie would tell such people. "Sorry to tell you, but you'll find our folks the same way. You're better off going back to the main highway and in another twenty minutes, you'll reach Everton…"


On the other hand, other people would answer Charlie's stock question with, "The people in our town are really friendly; they're kind and they care about each other." With a toothy smile, Charley would open the old wooden gate to the town and greet such visitors with a warm welcome.


"You'll love Charliesville," Charlie would tell them. "Our town is cordial. The food and lodging are wonderful and the prices extremely reasonable. Enjoy your stay here." Invariably, those visitors would fall in love with Charliesville and make a point to stop there whenever they travelled between the two big cities.


Why? How? Charlie and the folks of Charliesville knew the secret that was passed down from generation to generation in their town. If the visitors didn't like the people of their own hometown, then wherever they'd go, they wouldn't like the people there either, Charliesville included.


But, if they did like the people in their own town, they'd certainly fall in love with the especially nice folks of Charliesville.


There's another secret within a secret here: when a person likes himself, he likes everyone else. When he doesn't like himself, he doesn't like anyone else. As such, the folks who didn't like the people in their own town were folks who didn't like themselves. That's why Charlie nicely sent them down the road and wouldn't let them enter town.


Wherever you have a place where people like themselves, they like others too. Such people are great spouses. They're happy with their lot in life so they don't steal, fight or argue.


Wouldn't it be nice if we could turn our community or home into a Charliesville? Sure it would, but we have to start by being a Charlie – to love ourselves and to be satisfied with our lot in life. That way, we can love everyone else.


If you ask me why Moshiach isn't here yet, it's probably because he hasn't yet found Charliesville on the map. Let's build one for him.



* * *

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