Back in the days when most New York Jews lived in tenements, they would go to the public baths. However, the children were bathed at home in a small washtub. When they grew too big for the washtub, they too went to the public baths.
Rabbi Gottlieb took his eight-year-old son, Davey, to the baths for the first time. Davey was excited, but he carefully listened to his father’s instructions and was told to jump into the cold pool. As soon as he did, he began to shiver. Goose bumps” covered his skin, and his lips turned blue. “Oy, Papa, oy!” he sobbed.
Rabbi Gottlieb took his son to the dressing room where he covered him with a large towel and began to rub him down briskly. Soon the shivering ceased and color came back to his lips. The boy was quite warm now. “Aahh, Papa—a-a-h-h!” purred Davey.
“My son,” the rabbi said placidly, “do you know the difference between a cold bath and a sin?”
“No, Papa. What?”
“Well, when you jumped into the cold pool you first wailed ‘Oy!’ Then you said ‘Aahh!’ But when you commit a sin you first say ‘Aahh!’ and then you wail ‘Oy!'”