Thank You Hashem – Week 114

  • Thank you Hashem for the amazing day of Yom Kippur where we have the opportunity to be cleansed from all of our‎ sins!
  • Had something going on with a customer on a possible return and was hoping they would keep the products. Didn’t hear back from them and was afraid to call them and rock the boat. Got an email from him today saying please send me a certain piece to add to the products so they can use and keep them. Thank you Hashem
  • Thank you Hashem for every possible thing I can think of….I wanted to really say thank you also for helping find my naseeb b”h and getting engaged to such a wonderful girl and family!! Thank you for letting me live this whole year!!
  • Thank you Hashem for Rabbi Wachsman
  • Found 2 missing items immediately after reciting a special tefillah. Both on different days of aseret yemeh teshuva. Thank you Hashem!
  • thank you H-shem for Yom Kippur even though it’s hard on our bodies it’s the best for our Neshamot.  We feel really clean afterwards.
  • Thank You Hashem for giving us Yom Kippur so that our averot shouldn’t be out of control and for the beautiful, stunning words, tunes and songs that we have. And thank You that I didn’t have such an easy fast because it was kapparat avonot

CLASSIC FROM ARCHIVES..

  • My husband and I have marveled at the tremendous honor (Zechut) it was to be involved, even in our own small way, in what we both call “The  Howie’s Story”.  This actually happened a dozen years ago, in one of our very first Succah’s.  We hope you will enjoy it in your Succah!  Twelve years ago I was an undergraduate student at NYU and it was precisely the Fall semester. As many Orthodox students in post-secondary institutions can attest, the Fall semester necessarily means a discussion with professors and group work partners about missed classes and due-date extensions.  Upon informing the group that I would have to be out for the holiday of Succot, a fellow student asked me to tell her a little about Succot.  She was interested in Judaism because her boyfriend was Jewish, although, she added, he was completely anti-Judaism.  After giving my classmate a ‘readers-digest’ version of the holiday, I found myself inviting her and her boyfriend to join us for a meal so she could see for herself what it was all about. She seemed elated and accepted, although she was skeptical that her boyfriend would be joining us. And indeed, the next day after class, I ran into my friend and her boyfriend. He was, as described, anti-all-things-Judaism and a bit outrageous and combative.  He stood there with his long dreadlocks and proudly showed me his tattoos.  He pontificated about his beliefs and the melding of this philosophy and that theory until I was looking for ways to make a quick exit.  Oh boy, I thought, what have I gotten into and what am I subjecting my family to by inviting this person into our Succah. I slowly came to learn that Howie had actually come from a charadi family in Israel. His family life was not filled with the greatest of experiences. His upbringing involved both physical and mental abuse at the hands of a demanding father. He told us of the heavy -handed religion of an intolerant and derisive father.  Howie had barely made it out alive and I was sad for the young boy who was now the young man before me.    Well, eventually Succot rolled around and our special guests arrived with a bit of curiosity (on my classmates part), and cynicism on her boyfriend’s part. At first, it was a little tense as Howie tried once more to wax poetic the joys of Buddhism, or individualism or some such ism.  At this point I must acknowledge my husband’s wonderful demeanor and warmth.  He did not engage, argue and antagonize our guests. He simply was himself; kind, honest and steadfast in his beliefs.  We managed, however, to truly enjoy the meal and did our best to be hospitable and demonstrate ‘Hachnasat Orchim’.  As Howie and his girlfriend left our Succah that day, we were sure that that was probably the last Succah he would ever enter. We were wrong. Approximately four years later, My Husband and I were in for the surprise of our lives.  It was a cold winter day and we had all gathered at my brother’s house for a Torah-dedication.  The house was filled to the brim with all kinds of Yiddim, from Sephardic to Ashkenaz, from the ‘some-what’ observant to a large group of Chabad Chassid’s who danced and sang at the wonderful occasion.  As I watched the young men dance, I noticed one Chassidic young man, with long peyot and black hat, was headed for me and seemed to have something to say.  I was taken aback.  What could this ‘bachor’ have to say to me?  His first words…, “Do you know who I am?  I probably do not have to tell you who that Chassid was after all.  As it turned out, Howie told my husband what had transpired after his visit to our Succah.  He shared with us that our meal, in the Succah that day, was his very first positive experience with Judaism. Howie said he had never seen truly observant families talk with respect, love and warmth as he had seen that day.  He understood the religion of his youth was a corruption of something he had been denied.  And so his long journey back began, slowly but surely.  He thanked us as we stood dumb-founded at what we had been privileged to witness.    As we sit in our Succah today, you and I, let us be thankful for those that have returned and be hopeful for those that have not.  It is during this Yom-Tov that I often think of Howie and wonder why Hashem let my husband and I be a part of his story. Whatever the reason(s), it is as if we are still standing in that living room with a young Chassidic man, his dreads transformed to peyot, waiting before us to recognize him. We are still dumb-founded.

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