Young Sammy, not very bright but a loving son, spoke to his father.
"Dad," he said, "it's Father's Day, and you have enough ties.
What would YOU like as a gift?"
The father thought for a moment, then said,
"Sammy, my greatest joy would be for you to continue
the tradition of our people and learn to speak Hebrew."
The boy shuddered. "That would be so much work
and let's face it; I'm a slow learner."
"You'll do fine, Sammy. I learned that language to please my father
as he did for HIS father. It would please me so very much!"
"Okay, Dad, I'll give it a shot."
The next day, they looked up the local synagogue in the yellow pages
and went to see the rabbi.
Hebrew lessons were arranged, and the boy went faithfully and studied hard.
A few months later the father dropped in during a lesson
and discovered that the boy, while obviously doing his best,
could stumble through just a few words of Hebrew.
Then, to his horror, he realized that what he was hearing was
the beginning of the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead,
the words that every son is expected to intone at regular intervals
after the father's death.
"What IS this?" he cried. "I'm just in my 50s, a young man, in good health.
Do I look so aged and frail that my son has to learn
the Kaddish before anything else?"
"Mister!" said the rabbi. "You should only LIVE so long that this boy
will be able to say the whole Kaddish over you!"