My husband returned from his early minyan on Simchas Torah with a puzzled look on his face.“Something really odd happened today when the rav was selling the kibbudim,” he said.
For a long time my husband has been the gabbai of an early minyan that uses a shul building before the main minyan starts. He started this minyan many years ago for those who prefer to daven at an earlier time than the regular minyan, and he was conscious of the fact that the rav was doing him a favor letting him use the shul at that hour.
It’s always a bit of a rush to finish on time on any Shabbos, and especially on Simchas Torah with all the hakafos. That’s why my husband is careful to keep an eye on the clock and make sure his group doesn’t overrun their time.
So what had happened this morning?
“You know that the rav of the main minyan always comes in to our minyan on Simchas Torah to sell Kol Hane’arim, Chosson Torah, and Chosson Bereishis,” my husband began. Indeed, I knew that the money the rav raises, though rarely very much, is put toward the use the early minyan makes of the building to help with the electricity bills and other expenses.
I also knew that over the years this minyan has existed, my husband has never joined in the bidding, but lets others buy the honors. This year, however, as my husband has had some health issues, he told me he had decided to bidas a segulah for good health.
“So the rav starts with Kol Hane’arim. He starts the bidding as usual at 200 shekels,” my husband continued. “There was total silenceI’m not sure why. Then the rav says, ‘OK, 300 shekels – anyone else? No? Sold!’” My husband said he had looked around but couldn’t see who had bought the kibud.
“Then the rav goes on to the bidding for Chosson Torah. He starts at 200 again. I decided to bid 250 shekels, and as there was no competition, I got it.
“Afterward,” my husband went on, “the rav asked me who I had bought Chosson Torah for. I guess he remembered that I never usually buy anything for myself. So I told him that this time, it was for me. He looked a bit confused but didn’t say anything. As the rav was leaving, I suddenly remembered to call him back to ask him whom to call up for Kol Hane’arim because I still didn’t know who had bought it. The rav hesitated for a few seconds, looked around, and then pointed to a man at the back of the shul who often buys it.
“But when I called this guy up for Kol HaNe’arim,” my husband explained, “he said it was a mistake – he hadn’t bought it at all. He hadn’t bid for anything this year.” My husband shrugged. “But I still gave it to him, as that’s what the rav had told me, and I guess they’ll have to decide between them if he really bid for it or not.” I agreed that it sounded a bit odd, and that they would sort it out between them.
As we were finishing lunch, our daughter and son-in-law and family popped in to say Good Yom Tov, and as we were chatting my husband told them the story about his puzzling kibbudim and wondered aloud what had really happened with Kol Hane’arim. Our daughter and son-in-law looked at each other for a second and then burst out laughing. They knew!
Before Yom Tov, our son-in-law Shlomo had rung up the rav and asked him to buy one of the honors for his father-in-law on his behalf, but not to tell him who had bought it for him. He knew that my husband never buys anything for himself, and wanted to buy it for him. The rav agreed. The rav pretended he had a bid on Kol Hane’arim. I guess he must have intended to tell my husband that it had been bought for him by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. But then my husband complicated things by bidding for something for himself afterward.
When the rav realized that my husband actually intended to take Chosson Torah for himself, he realized that it would have looked very odd to give him a second honor, so in order not to give away his “secret mission,” he had to suddenly pretend that someone else had bid for Kol Hane’arim. And presumably the first person he thought of was the man who usually buys it.
The puzzle was solved. My husband was extremely touched by Shlomo’s kind and thoughtful gesture. It appears that although Shlomo wanted to keep his chesed a secret, Hashem had other plans. By giving my husband the idea to bid for the segulah of good health, Hashem had also enabled him to see how much he is cared for by his own extended family.