Family Cohen was on very good terms with their catholic neighbours, the O' Brians. In fact, little Yaakov Cohen and Chris O' Brian from next door would play together from time to time. Or at least they used to. Well, one late December's day, Duncan, the non-jewish father, came storming in to the Cohen's house holding poor Yaakov by the ear. "Your son is not going near my Chris again; he just has no respect for us and our religion!" "What's the matter; what did he do?" enquired Mr Cohen. "I'll tell you" said Duncan in a rage "he saw our xmas tree and started making fun." "Really, what did he say?" continued Mr Cohen. Responded Duncan sharply "he saw our tree and started asking all sorts of questions - which trees are ok? what's the minimum required height? how near to the window does it need to be? do too many decortions render it unfit? what if it's under a neighbour's balcony?!"

Though this may seem a joke (it is i spose) it's lesson is deep. If halachah seems to become a bit dry and unexctiting, remember that we are the only religion to have this complexity of laws and details covering the full spectrum of life; from going to the toilet to putting on shoes to cutting nails. The point is that we teach that each and every action in this world can be used to a spiritual ends to create spiritual worth and ultimately reach our potential. Too bad the O' Brians didn't figure that one out!

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