The great Ba’al Shem Tov holds court:
A man knocks on the door of the Rabbi. “I’ve come to you because I wish to study Talmud/Gemara.”
He says, “I have a Ph.D. from Harvard and wrote my dissertation on logic. I think I’m ready.”
The Ba’al Shem Tov decides to test the man to see if he is ready for such study.
The rabbi begins his questioning, “If two men come down a chimney and one emerges dirty and the other clean, which one will wash himself?” Confused by the simplicity of the question, the man answered, “That’s obvious, the dirty man will wash himself.”
The rabbi replies, “Why would the one with the dirty face wash his face if he looks at his friend with the clean face and thinks his face is clean as well so he doesn’t bother washing his face. On the other hand, the one with the clean face looks at his friend with the dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face goes to wash his face.”
The Harvard man is thrilled with this example of Talmudic wisdom and says, “I knew I was right to come here to study with you.”
The rabbi says, “Not so fast. Let’s try again. Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other come out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”
Thinking he already knows the answer, the Harvard man says, “I know that! You just told me! The man who is clean sees his friend who is dirty, thinking that he is dirty too, he washes his face because he thinks he is dirty, while the man with the dirty face sees his friend with the clean face, so he doesn’t bother, because he assumes that his face is clean.”
The Ba’al Shem Tov is getting a little depressed by these answers. He says, “Don’t you realize that the one with the dirty face looks at his friend with the clean face and thinks his face is clean so at first he doesn’t wash his face. While the one with the clean face looks at his friend with the dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes his face. When the one with the dirty face sees the one with the clean face washing his face, he asks what he’s doing, to which his friend answers that he saw the dirty mans face and assumed that his face was dirty as well, at which point the friend with the dirty face realizes that his face is dirty, so he also washes his face. So each one ends up washing his face.”
The genius from Harvard nows says, “The Torah is amazing in its logic. I’m begging you Rabbi, please teach me Torah!”
The great rabbi says, “I’ll give you one more shot. You still don’t seem to get it. Tell me, “How is it possible for two men to come down the same chimney, and for one’s face to get dirty, while the other’s face stayed clean?”
The Harvard genius does not know so the rabbi says, “Your fellow chimney traveler is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering — you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself. When you meet a stranger you have a tendency to criticize his way of life. The Yiddish journey through life is long and hard. Still, if one tries the journey, in the end he finds it rewarding.”
The Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act 1840 [England] made it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to sweep chimneys. The 1840 Act was widely ignored, attempts were made in 1852 and 1853 to reopen the issue, another enquiry was convened and more evidence was taken. There was no bill. The Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act 1864, c37. tightened controls significantly, by authorising fines and imprisonment for master sweeps who were ignoring the law, giving the police the power of arrest on suspicion and authorising Board of Trade inspections of new and remodelled chimneys. Lord Shaftesbury was a main proponent of the Bill.
In February 1875 a twelve-year-old boy, George Brewster, was sent up the Fulbourn Hospital chimneys by his master, William Wyer. He stuck and smothered. The entire wall had to be pulled down to get him out and although he was still alive, he died shortly afterwards. There was a Coroner’s Inquest which returned a verdict of manslaughter. Wyer was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour. Lord Shaftesbury seized on the incident to press his campaign again. He wrote a series of letters to The Times and in September 1875 pushed another Bill through Parliament which finally stopped the practice of sending boys up chimneys.
Here’s Dick van Dyke. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te_Nv3lMUnA
Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, often called Baal Shem Tov or Besht, was a Jewish mystical rabbi. He is considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism. He died about 1760.