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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/02/09

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Dear Rachel,

My story is different than most (since I am not writing to complain about something or someone), but the moral may be worth sharing with your readers nonetheless.

I live in a bustling, large yet tight-knit chassidic community where, Baruch Hashem, multiple smachos are celebrated on just about every night of the week.

Needless to say, it would be impossible to attend each one that I am invited to, so my longstanding habit has been to just stop by to convey my mazel tov to the ba’alei simcha, and if my timing is right, to kick up my heels for a dance or two. I suspect that this works well not only for me but for the hosts as well, since the cost of feeding many guests at a simcha can be exorbitant.

Of course when it is a close family member, I am prepared to stay the duration.

Well, the other day I dropped in at the wedding of a friend’s daughter. This wedding was particularly moving since this friend has been widowed for several years now and has single-handedly been raising her several children.

As I looked around me, I saw the kallah’s siblings – younger sisters – all prettied up for the occasion, but with faces that betrayed an inner sadness. After dancing with the kallah, I took turns partnering with each young girl, twirling them around the dance floor in beat to the lively music.

Just before I was ready to leave, a long-time acquaintance approached me and paid me the ultimate tribute. She had been watching me and was impressed with the way I danced. It wasn’t so much my dancing expertise or style that she was taken with, she explained, but the feeling of genuineness – even as my feet were flying in tune to the accompanying musical rhythm, she recognized that it was my heart that was soaring.

Naturally I came away from that affair with a good feeling, which was nothing compared to the emotions that washed through me when I passed the somewhat reserved 11-year old sister of the kallah on the street later that week. She stopped to thank me for “uplifting” her at her sister’s wedding – literally and figuratively. She sweetly expressed her gratitude for my personal attention and participation.

I felt a need to contact the woman who had praised me at that simcha, to share with her this special encounter and the unexpected demonstration of appreciation that had so deeply touched me.

“If I may I ask you something personal ” remarked this woman (aged 30-something). “Were you always into dancing, even as a child ?”

Her question threw me… I realized that dancing was not only never one of my strong points, but that I had always been quite clumsy on my feet, as were my siblings who had always kibitzed about us all having “left feet.”

To this revelation the woman commented, “Well, it would seem then that your wonderful dancing ability is a gift from Hashem Who has perceived your true intentions by seeing straight through to your heart ”

Believe it or not, Rachel, I do not write this to pat myself on the back, but rather to express my amazement at this young woman’s way of thinking. In this day of materialism and competitiveness, when most of what is written concerns our worries over where this generation is headed, I think it is important to be aware that there are clear-headed, serious-minded individuals in our midst who are not only grounded but are constantly aware that there is a G-d watching us and guiding us.

Thank you for stressing this very point time and time again in your column and for letting us, your devoted readers, have our say.

It’s the heart of it that counts

Dear Heart,

Thank you for uplifting us with a truly heartwarming story and its multiple messages.

Kudos to you! It is indeed a mitzvah to be m’sameach chassan v’kallah and you not only seem to know it, but are doing a marvelous job in performing it. Yours is furthermore a lesson in how much one individual can accomplish all by herself, time and time again. How many of us are truly mindful of the mitzvos that are right there in front of us for the taking?

Your friend’s observation is profound, though the premise is certainly not new. We are taught, “B’derech she’adam rotzeh leileich molichin oso ” – the way a person wants to go is the way Hashem will lead him.

Shlomo HaMelech, in Koheles, writes that there is a time for everything, including “a time of dancing” (eis rikud). Why didn’t he state “l’rikud” – a time to dance, like where it says “a time to love and a time to hate, etc.?”

The Imrei Emes explains that when it comes to being mesameach chassan v’kallah, there is no deliberate forethought to dance – rather, as the heart is overcome with feelings of joy, the feet lift themselves off the floor of their own accord, and that is what is meant by “a time of dancing.”

May the merits of our ma’asim tovim (good deeds) speak volumes on our behalf and drown out our shortcomings as we beseech our Father above to take pity on His children and grant us a year filled with simcha and the health and wherewithal to delight in His beneficence.

Wishing all our readers and Klal Yisroel a sweet, mitzvah-filled and inspiring Sukkos!

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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