In the course of cleaning out my burgeoning file cabinets to make room for current mail, I came across a weighty, unopened envelope with strangely familiar handwriting addressed to me. Curious, I opened it and was shocked to see it was dated 1999. I read through the five pages of a profound, beautifully scripted letter and my heart stopped. Just short of the last paragraph I broke down weeping and I am weeping still as I prepare this letter for print these 20 years later. I owe this and so much more to the letter-writer and being that it is before Rosh Hashana and the messages conveyed are timeless I hope we can all take away something to fix what is broken in our lives. I know I will cherish this letter always.
Dear Rachel (Mrs. Bluth),
Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to read this letter and possibly finding it worthy to appear in your column as I know how busy you are. I hope that the observations I wish to impart herein will be well received by your readership. In the event that I am wrong, please forgive me for assuming that I have a valid platform. If you find this to be the case feel free to cast this missive into the file marked “Ramblings of an aged gentleman” and I will fully understand.
Life and time have relegated me to that elitist rank of “Observer Extraordinaire,” in other words, one with ‘too much’ life experience to qualify for any real consideration in today’s topsy-turvy world. So, I accept my post as the Ancient Gatekeeper as life passes by, however, these old eyes see clearer than those with 20/20 vision the erosion of the human spirit. My ears, although of late a bit hard of hearing for a man of my years, they hear the sounds of moral decay thunderously loud, foreboding a perilous future. My mind and my spirit, still as sharp as they were in my youth, are tormented and pained at what has become of the Jewish people.
I think back to my own upbringing, my childhood home and the chinuch instilled in me in my yeshiva in Poland in the early 1900s and I am pained when comparing it to today’s children. Where is the derech eretz, the respect and the love that was transmitted to us as we learned Torah? It seems to have gotten lost and disappeared along with the six million Kiddoshim. I watch mothers ‘watching’ their little ones while engrossed in conversation with each other as their young run helter-skelter in the street chasing a ball as cars drive by. I see yungerleit with cell phones plastered to their heads bumping into passersby without so much as a ‘Pardon me’ or ‘I’m sorry’ or Hashem yishmor while driving! I hear the crying babies left in the care of siblings not much older in front of stores while their mothers are inside shopping. I pray that no harm befalls these young ones from predators or child molesters, what with all that we read about in the daily newspapers. So much tza’ar and agmas nefesh all around from drug addiction and addictions to other forms of self destruction and machlas that result.
I see people chasing after material wealth in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment and at the expense of spending quality time with their children. The desire for the bigger house, the fancier car and the latest electronic toys to impress those that have less and those that have more – what a great person you are. I see fathers and mothers who spend more time away from their homes, entrusting the care and tutelage of their children to housekeepers and maids thus encouraging their young children to seek recognition and acceptance in alternate company. I see husbands and wives who live in the same home, yet hardly speak to each other and a see children who are lost and helpless in their quest for parental attention.
I see very little evidence of ahavas Yisrael, true love for ones fellow man without expectation. Tzedaka is given in exchange for notoriety and/or kavod. Acts of generosity extended for something in return, no favors come free, most often there are strings attached to any good deed. Then is it really a good deed in the eyes of Hashem? The letters you receive from agunos and children who witness the ugliness between warring parents and from those in torment at the hands of vicious and brutal spouses are a source of constant worry and travail as I hope and pray for a miracle to cure this malady that has befallen our people so that we can once again be the Am Yisrael that will be zoche to welcome Moshiach and end this golus.
As I sit here next to your mother and watch the sun begin to set in the gloriously hued sky, we watch this day slowly slip away to become yesterday. I see the good and the bad and everything in between as the last rays of the sun’s fiery orb slips between the velvet skirts of evening. I draw my beloved closer to me against the soft night breeze and pray a silent prayer and wait for the miracle.
With all my love,
I sit here with tears streaming from my eyes and respond to your letter of some twenty years ago, a letter that, somehow eluded me until now. You always knew when and what to say, this being Chodesh Elul and your tenth yahrzeit and Mom’s eleventh. Your words still carry a clear and timely message that for Moshiach to come we have to clearly do much to be rewarded with the Geulah. I hear your voice in my inner ear and hope that you and Mommy will continue to be melitzei yeshayrim for our family and Klal Yisrael.
A Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all.