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Who Has More Fun

"It's better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints - the sinners have much more fun" - Billy Joel.

"Do not envy men of evil and don't desire to be with them" [Mishlei 24/1]

Billy - you sing nonsense! [Ally - you spent your childhood listening to nonsense!]

It is NOT better to "laugh with the sinners."

Sinners have bad marriages [they cheat on their wives]. It's not fun to have a bad marriage.

Sinners have dysfunctional families [bad marriages and divorce result in dysfunctional families]. It's not fun to have a dysfunctional family.

Sinners get in trouble with the law. Jail isn't fun.

Sinners are despised by many. It's not fun being despised.

Sinners have many character defects. Yes indeed, the Rambam says that a character defect is a sin. [Obviously nobody is perfect. But the "Saints" work on themselves.] It's not fun being a tempermental person. Or a envious person. Or a lazy person. Or a person who is consumed by physical desires that can never be satisfied. Not fun is an understatement. Frankly it makes a person miserable!

Sinners die. Sometimes young. No Billy, not "only the good die young." Sinners die young sometimes too. Heck, we all die young. Whenever I die, as far as I'm concerned, I'll be too young. After sinners die they have to face G-d. That can't be fun.

You know what? If any of us could choose between being a Jewish "Saint" [what we call a Tzaddik] who went to the gas chambers at a young age with "Shema Yisrael" on his lips and a Nazi Sinner who killed, tourtured and maimed, but lived until a ripe old age - we would all choose the former. No contest.

So I hope to become a Tzaddik. That in my mind would be the most fun. In this world and the next.

i think billy was talking about saints in the christian sense. they don't get to have much fun either, because they can't do anything.we were commaded to enjoy this world, so we do, but within the hagbalot set forth in the torah. when you live to fulfill the will of hakadosh baruch hu, you do it utilizing everything he gave you for the good- be it talents, tendencies, or actual objects such as money, or food. since hashem created it, it can be used positively (and half the fun is figuring out how to use seemingly negative things positively). we are not looking for pleasure, so if there's more right to be done, we just keep doing it. the sinners run out eventually-when the pleasure ends the fun ends. and the dry spells, in between the fun, are not too enjoyable either.

billy joel comes from a somewhat dysfunctional, but jewish family. maybe, as morah suggested he was in fact talking about from the notzri sense and he was saying, i rather be a "sinner" (i.e. a non-beleiver in their messiah) and remain a full-fledge jew, than be their version of a "saint", obtaining neither olam habaah nor olam ha'zeh. just trying to be m'lamed zechut.

rav ally, aside from his nonsense, in 1993 (by then, you probably stopped listening to nonsense!) he came out with a song called 2000 years see this link:


which i think is clear that he's talking about the return of the shechina after our 2000 yr galus. the man has some pintele yid left in him (supposedly wore tefillin at one point while touring).

finally, i see that you have flair with interpreting secular oldies for the purpose of teaching torah. to this day, i use a chug you once delivered from simon & garfunkel's "I am a Rock" at many a sheva brachot. any chance of coming up with a torah thought on "american pie?" there's gotta be something in there! thanks again and chag sameach!

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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