Two recent stories for you translated from the Hebrew
My friend is a rabbi in a different shul than mine and invited me for a meal at his house for Rosh Hashannah. But, first, come to my shul. OK.
We’re walking to his shul. He’s the chazzan there for many years already. He’s half my age but 100% my 6’5″ (1.95 m).
We’re approaching the crowd, chatting in front of the little sanctionary, waiting for their prayer leader.
Suddenly I see someone in a wheelchair. Must be about 90. He is pushed our way, but he wants to get up. His keeper tries to stop him to no avail.
He stands up, arms stretches up in my direction and says with a beam from ear to ear: Give me a blessing.
It’s obvious he’s been waiting to see me all his life.
A little fear enters my heart. I learned how to give blessings, but the old Ashkenazic coldness, apparently, has not left completely yet.
I tried a little: But he’s the rabbi. No trick can detract him. He’s fixated on me, I’m the one, and he’s not letting go of this chance of a lifetime.
What shall I wish you?
He names one thing that’s most urgent for him and I build a whole blessing around it.
He’s so pleased. More about seeing me than about anything I said, I think. Completely satisfied, he leans back into the chair. I made his day/life?
I said to my friend: And we both thought the Messiah needed to be a Talmud scholar.
There is this guy in my shul with an ego so large that I often wonder how he gets through the door. He’s short but so fat that he seems to burst out of his tight clothes. But what most shows is how pleased he is with himself. He parades around as if to say: Aren’t you all lucky I’m here?!
This Yom Kippur I sat unusually close to him. I stared a bit at him. How he could talk even during the chazzan’s part of Ne’eelah—the holiest of the day. He’s someone who joins the weekly Shabbat service at 5 AM. He knows what goes on.
He was jabbering away with his neighbors having the time of his life during the scariest time of the year. I thought: G^d doesn’t show me this for nothing. I must do something with this.
This Shabbat, I knew what. Just before the Kiddush after shul, I walked over to him. He was talking away with two guys eating up his every word. And I said:
Shabbat shalom. I must talk to you. When we have something positive to tell someone, and we don’t, we violate all the laws of slander.
He says with bulging eyes: You have something positive to tell me? The Messiah must have arrived.
We never talk, but he hates my ego as much as I hate his; it needs no words.
I say: I noticed that you can’t stand it when people around you don’t feel good. You talk to them, tell them stories, jokes …
He laughs and says: You pulled it off. Amazing.
Have a Happy Feast of Tabernacles!