Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wrapped up Challah and a Mezuza--Profound Life Lessons from a Holocaust Survivor

Dear Henry,
       As you may have, or perhaps, may have not noticed, I am trying to write to you once a week, usually on any given Sunday, (at least until football season starts, when I will be obsessing over the pending Denver Broncos Superbowl championship season for the ages.) As Shabbos rolled around, I was still unsure as to what to write about for this week. The only real excitement that happened was a) I went golfing and B) I learned there is a very popular song called "Gangnam Style," and I learned some of the sweet dance moves-- but not even yours truly was able to figure out the deep inner meaning of that song. And inasmuch as I like writing only about the deep inner meaning of life on this blogg, I wasn't about to write a whole blogg post about any gangnam style, or lack thereof. So, I was stuck going into Shabbos not even really sure about what I was going to write about for this week. That feeling of not knowing what I was going to write about was probably not quite as frustrating as being a Cleveland sports fan felt when Bron Bron took his talents to South Beach.
       Shabbos was beautiful-- but nothing all that exciting happened, and as of 8:30 PM last night, I didn't even have anything to write about. But then, during the rabbis shalosh seudos speech- everything changed. Before he began speaking, I heard an incredibly sweet Holocaust survivor mention that he and his wife really liked the challah that was being served, and he would try to get the recipe for her. (For a story about a different survivor, check out Then the rabbi began speaking, and I was admittedly daydreaming. Rabbi-- if you are reading this blogg- and I'm sure you are reading this blogg inasmuch as thousands of people read this blogg, across the vast globe-- even in places like Canada, Spain, and Russia--please don't be offended. Don't be offended because the only Rabbi for whom I don't day dream while he speaks, is a guy named Rabbi Daniel Martin Wolfe- he speaks very nicely, so it's hard to day dream during his brilliant talks. Anyways, my day dream was abruptly ended when this adorable aforementioned Holocaust survivor raised his hand and told us that every night before he goes to sleep, he goes to kiss his mezuzah, and he feels as if he is giving G-d a kiss, so to speak. I thought this was incredibly touching and beautiful- here is a man who lives with the reality that the Almighty is in his home. A man who saw the most horrific sights imaginable during his lifetime, a man who saw humanity at its worse. This same man did not give up on G-d-- he embraced Him, he lives with Him.
       After the Rabbi was done speaking, and everyone had thanked The Lord for their food and bentsched, (aka recited Birkas HaMazon aka recited Grace after the meal) I noticed this same sweet man setting aside two challos, and wrapping them ever so lovingly for his adoring wife, who was anxiously awaiting to greet him back home. He was doing it discreetly, as if no one would see. But I saw, and I was extraordinarily moved. Here is a man, that has been married at least fifty years putting on a little demonstration- a clinic of sorts- illustrating to anyone who would watch, the secret to a loving and successful marriage. I often find myself in situations where I could grab some leftovers for my wife, that I know she would like. But I usually tell myself, "Danny, its too much of a shlep (inconvenience) to wrap it up, put it away, and bring it home for her. Maybe it would make more sense if I just eat an extra portion, and tell her I had her in mind." But this was not the approach of this man-- this man who has been happily married for several decades understood very well that it was darn well worth the inconvenience of shlepping around some extra challah, if it meant making his wife happy, if it meant showing his wife his love through the act of giving.
      And then I thought about the two different observations I made that evening of this man: A) He told us that he gives the mezuza a kiss every night before bed and B) he packed away some challah to bring home to his wife. I realized that these two items are not at all random occurrences- but they go together hand in hand. The Torah teaches us that it is our job to build a Mishkan- a dwelling place for the Almighty. We assume that this applies to us nowadays as well, as we can all build a 'mishkan me'at' -- in our homes-- so that the point of a Jewish marriage is to build a dwelling place for the Almighty. And its only fitting for G-d to dwell in a place of complete serenity and peace-- a loving environment where the love between husband and wife is palpable. An environment devoid of yelling and arguing and negativity. With this understanding, the way this sweet man behaved last night was entirely consistent. Him and his wife have an incredible relationship. He constantly thinks of new ways to make her happy, even 50+ years into their marriage on a late Saturday night. Therefore, G-d is resting in their glorious home.
   Once a week I will wrap up some challah and bring it home to my prettier, better half.
   Will you?

   My name is Danny Wolfe, and I approve this message.

   Danny Wolfe

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