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There is currently an advertising campaign broadcasting on Israeli radio and other media trying to induce listeners and readers to consider choosing to become a locksmith as a profession. Radio commercials state that there are over 3 million requests for locksmiths annually in Israel, to solve the inevitable problems that come with having locks and safes and there are less than 300 certified locksmiths in the country!

I find these statistics staggering and hard to believe but I have no way of disproving them. One thing is for certain though, that sooner or later in life one will need a locksmith. And as the locks become more technologically advanced and complicated, I certainly see the necessity for training a new generation of locksmiths. There is nothing more frustrating than being locked out of one's own home, automobile, safe or office because of a malfunctioning lock.
Having had this experience many times in my lifetime, I can personally testify to the feeling of desperation when the lock will not unlock no matter what one does. A locksmith once told me that the only people more adept at unlocking locks that refuse to open, are burglars – apparently, they are even more skilled than the locksmiths themselves. I always wondered why they would remain burglars if they could earn a decent living by being expert locksmiths. But the nature of human beings is always perverse, and burglars rarely become locksmiths, though I am afraid that the opposite case does occur. Greed is tempting and the illusion of easy money is even more tempting.
The Talmud discusses locksmiths in terms of spiritual life and Torah knowledge. When the Talmud is faced with a difficult question in law and logic and is unable to solve it, it states that there is no locksmith or the son of a locksmith that can solve the problem. This phrase is found often in the later commentaries to the Talmud as well and is a favorite description of some of the more insoluble issues of law and life that one encounters.
In fact, the problems of life are compared to the intricacies of a lock. It is difficult to make all the pieces fit at one time and often we do not really possess the keys to unlock the problems that confront us. Just as we endeavor to find an expert locksmith to open the physical locks on our doors and safes, we also look for expert assistance and guidance to help us unlock the spiritual and emotional difficulties that confront us.
I would imagine that there are many millions of requests for such spiritual locksmiths every year here in Israel and I also would imagine that just as in the world of actual locks, there are very few ‘locksmiths’ available regarding spiritual issues as well. They are few and far between and the expert ‘locksmiths’ in life rarely if ever advertise themselves as being so. This makes it even more difficult to find the right one at the right time who could be available in emergency situations.
At my stage of life, I am not really looking for a new career or profession. I must admit though that I am fascinated by the advertisements that recommend becoming a locksmith as the means of being an asset to society and earning a respectable living performing a skilled and challenging task.
Also, at my age I no longer have the spiritual mentors or wise ‘locksmiths’ of the past to whom I can turn for sage advice and wise counsel, with questions, decisions and problems. I have also learned from mentors that there are certain ‘locks’ that no human ‘locksmith’ can unlock. I realize that part of the wisdom of life is to recognize these situations and deal with ‘locked doors’ and ‘open safes.’ Just as in today's world, the ocks on the doors and safes have become more complicated and technically advanced, to a certain extent is this true also of the ‘locks’ that we find confronting us in our daily lives.
The world is more complex and challenging, even in the smallest details, than it was a century ago. But even though they may be scarce, the Jewish people still possess ‘locksmiths’ who can help and guide us and we have ultimate trust in the great ‘locksmith’ that has created us all and sustains us in life.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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