Rabbi Doniel Stern on the upcoming festival of Purim.
As I cycled down the road at 8am recently, I noticed the frost on the car windows. I felt the traction of my wheels, so I sped up without any concern. As I rounded the corner towards the entrance of Shul, I found myself hurtling towards the ground. I remember my helmeted head bouncing off the gravel, and then felt the shooting pain in my left shoulder. Slowly, I picked myself up, and gingerly hobbled to Shacharit, wheeling my bike with my right hand. I sat down in shul and requested help donning my tallit and head tefillin – my arm tefillin was out of the question.
Fast forward 12 hours. I waited outside the hospital for my wife to collect me for the second time that day after a shocking misdiagnosis. My arm was in a sling, and I was about to experience the effect that
a broken collar bone could have on one’s life. The humbling constant reliance on others and the struggle to perform the most mundane actions, always having been taken for granted, were counterbalanced by an immense feeling of appreciation and gratitude to the One above for providing me with fantastic health and a body that works marvellously. However, what made me stop and think was the knock at the door.
A student stood there, holding a box of Torino chocs with a beautiful note. I checked that my kids couldn’t see, and as I allowed myself just one, I wondered why people were being so kind and generous. If they love me, why wait for this to happen. The friday before would have been great as well.
As I reached for just one more, it occurred to me that, yes, people may love others, but when the others become the underdog, naturally, the love expresses itself more.
One more indulgence and that’s it. I couldn’t help but think that interestingly, the One above acts in the same way: “G-d seeks the pursued.” (Kohelet 3:15) One of the reasons why He loves our nation
is because we are the little sheep among seventy wolves. When one is in danger, deep in the proverbial fox hole, the soul resonates inside, connecting and relying on the One and Only.
A young Israeli girl with deep brown eyes was walking home from school when she noticed the sweet shop beckoning with its bright colours and vivacious music.
She stood at the window, eyeing row after scrumptious row, allowing her mind to go wild with the ecstasy of the imagined tastes partying in her mouth. Sadly though, she knew she didn’t have the money for them. She loved her family and knew they were doing their best, but spare cash for sweets was simply not a reality.
As she turned to continue home, she heard a voice calling: “Yalda Metuka, sweet girl.” She spun around and saw the shopkeeper signalling that she should come in. She entered the place of dreams, as the owner called out again: “Yaldah Metuka. I see you pass this window twice a day, and the look in your eyes when you gaze at the sweets breaks my heart. Take a handful of anything you want.” She looked up at his kind weathered face and smiled timidly. “Nu?” the Israeli asked. She just stood and smiled. “Beseder, I will do it.” He thrust his hand into a container, and smoothly emptied the goodies into a paper bag. The girl’s smile stretched beyond her face as she took the bag and said a heartfelt “Todah.”
She excitedly shared the episode with her mother as she burst through the door. Her mother asked simply: “Why didn’t you take the sweets yourself?” Those brown eyes looked up sheepishly and whispered: “I looked at the size of my hands, and I looked at the size of his hands…”
Historically, Purim was a day when we were almost wiped off the face of the planet. However, once we realised, we were in trouble, as the underdog, we turned to our Father in heaven, and the love was manifest in a miraculous way. So much so, He desires such happiness and joy that He commands that on this day, anyone who stretches out their hand for help, just give. Funnily enough, G-d is bound by His own laws. So on this day, we MUST spend one minute speaking and requesting from Him. And His hands are so much bigger than ours.
That was when my hand came to the sad realisation that there were no more Torinos left for Purim. Oy vey!