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In Praise of a Great Scholar and Musician (Dedicated to Miriam Leah Epstein Preil)

In the nine years in which Times of Israel has published 1, 497 of my articles I have very rarely received comments from my readers. In the first 2 or 3 years I often heard from readers mainly in the anglo-saxon English-speaking countries. Several were polite comments but occasionally with anti-Israel remarks. A few by Jews and mainly by non-Jews in the USA and French Canada.

I seldom replied to them. Correcting anti-Israel or anti-Jewish comments is useless. People believe what they enjoy believing.

Today I could hear the sounds of my favorites whose music touches the heart and the soul. It was the sounds of a piano and the works of Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Bach, Tchaikhovsky, Mozart, Mendelssohn (but not Debussy) played by the fingers of a gifted musician, Miriam Leah Epstein Preil.

Between her playing, she found time to write a comment to me on my recently published article “My Best Friend On Four Legs”.

Never in all the past nine years have I ever received such a glorious and glowing comment. It truly brought tears to my eyes to realize that an unknown reader had thought so highly on what I had written.

My daughter also read Miriam’s magnificent words and was equally touched by them. “She must be a wonderful person to take time to send you her comments”.

Wonderful is insufficient. She is a godly woman, a scholar of our sacred Torah and a devout practicioner of our Judaic faith and traditions.

In her comments she referred to dogs being mentioned in the ancient Perek Shirah. It caused me to turn to the encyclopedia in order to better understand her reference. Although I am an ordained rabbi I was not familiar with Miriam’s reference.

Perek Shirah is attributed to the writings of King David. He wrote “all the animals give praise to God. The dogs are saying ‘Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before YHWH our Maker’ ”.

Rabbi Yeshaya fasted and said “it is written about dogs that they are brazen of spirit, they do not know satisfaction. Shall they merit saying a song?” An angel replied to him from Heaven saying “Yeshaya, it is an oath from the Blessed Holy One and I have been sent from Heaven to assist you.

It has been written in our holy book about them ‘no dog sharpened its teeth or its tongue against any of the children of Yisrael. For this reason dogs have merited saying a song’. It is by the Will of our Eternal God.” Dogs are to be loved and cared for.

I am grateful to Miriam Leah Epstein Preil for referring me to Perek Shirah and my gratitude for her warm and beautiful comments on my article. I have printed it out to keep before my eyes in much happiness that one reader cared enough to respond. And she responded magnificently.

May Hashem watch over her and bless her with good health, length of days, fulfillment and happiness and an abundance of success. May her piano notes continue to bring joy into the ears of all who listen and who hear.

Miriam Leah Epstein Preil has earned a place in the old heart of an old man.

I did not get a Nobel Prize nor an Israel Prize but the prize I received from Miriam is a prize to cherish from one heart to another.

May she always be a blessing to those who know her and who love her.

Shaddai yishmereha v’yatzil ota mi kol ra u mi kol machalot. Ken yehi ratzon. Amen.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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