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A LESSON IN SENSITIVITY

12/28/2017 09:33:32 AM

Dec28

Eliezer Wolf

My grandfather Mr. Herschel Klein was a very special man, with true 'old-world' values.

When he retired, he volunteered to teach a Talmud class at my high-school. Each year, days before Pesach, he would take his class on an excursion to the main Synagogue on campus. Equipped with schmattes and cleaning sprays, he oversaw an annual project that he initiated: to clean the Aron Hakodesh.

No, I don’t think chametz was ever found. But over the year the Aron Hakodesh would gather dust, and perhaps some candies, and it deserved to be cleaned.

When it was my class’s turn, we certainly had a thrill climbing into the tall and deep interior of the Aron Hakodesh. But we were too young to appreciate the magnitude of what we were doing, and the extent of my grandfather’s sensitivity towards sacred and communal property.

But now, as I’m a little older and I lead a Synagogue of my own, I marvel at the righteousness and noble concern of my grandfather. How many Synagogue attendees nowadays ever thought about cleaning the Aron Hakodesh, or polishing a Torah’s silver crown, or dusting the prayer books, or replacing a light-bulb?

Today, when we opened the Aron Hakodesh during our prayers, it hit me. For some reason, I noticed how dirty it was – filled with dust, leaves from dried willow branches which lay on top, and other pieces of schmutz. And I was reminded of my grandfather.

After the service, I shared the story with the congregation. And then I announced that I’d be auctioning off the ‘zechut’ – privilege – to clean our Aron Hakodesh. It wasn’t about the money, although it offered an opportunity to increase in tzedakkah on the fast day. It was about learning how to sensitize ourselves to that which is sacred, and how to care for communal property.

I am very grateful to the long list of people that eagerly stepped up to fulfill this honorable task.

PS I am very proud that in our community we have numerous such volunteers: someone who comes each week to fold the tallitot and organize the books neatly; someone who washes the pashmina’s periodically; someone who polishes the Torah’s silver vestments annually; someone who arranges our trash recycling program; someone who tends to our garden; someone who ensures we have a beautiful playground; and someone who helps take care of our facility's maintenance. There isn’t a lot of glory in doing these, but these people and their holy work, are most glorious indeed!

Shabbat Shalom!

Wed, December 19 2018 11 Tevet 5779