Friday, March 21, 2008

Tales of Chesed 1

I'm a reluctant BT - I became observant primarily under the influence of my wife. One of the things that won me over was the feeling that at least some Orthodox hashkafot had a better-than-average chance at creating mentches. For me, mentchlicheit is the prerequisite for frumkeit - you can't be a good Jew in my eyes without being a good person first. There are other hashkafot than this, as has become increasingly clear to me with time.

One of the main reasons we moved to my present town was the high degree of achdut among the Orthodox community. Shul bulletins routinely publicize other shul's events, many people are members of multiple shuls, most people eat over one another's houses. When we were first looking into the community, we were sitting in a realtor's office when a 16 year old boy came in. He had seen me at mincha, and since we were obviously looking over the town, he wanted to see if he could help - were we looking to stay over Shabbat, did we want to know about the town, whatever. Malka Esther said to me afterwards 'any town where they are raising the boys to be that helpful has got to be a good place to live.

So to help me get over my recent bout of negativity, I thought I would share some stories of chesed in my town. Here's the first:

D. had moved to town about a month ago. He was going to marry R. who has lived here for about a year. Neither of them had developed a lot of friends in town yet. D. & R.'s wedding was scheduled for a Thursday. That weekend was the afruf and wedding of the son of one of the town's biggest baalei tzedakah. The wedding on Thursday came off beautifully. A number of people who only knew D. casually not only showed up for the wedding, but were instrumental in making sure everything ran smoothly.

Friday night there was huge oneg shabbat in honor of one the visitors in town for the big wedding. He was a very well known Israeli rabbi, and literally dozens of people showed up for the oneg. The room was packed, and nowhere more so than the head table. Not only were the speaker and the wedding party there, but so were the rabbis of two synagogues, the head of the local kollel, and other prestigious out of town guests. While we were waiting for things to begin, in walks D. The host of the oneg sees D., makes his way to him through the crowd, gets a rousing chorus of "Od Yishama" started, and then brings D. to the head table, where everybody scrunches over to make space for the new chatan. Personally, I had never seen a bridegroom treated that way other than at his own sheva brachot. Here at an event for someone else entirely, someone made sure that the chatan was made to feel like a king, despite being new in town.

1 comment:

Leora said...

It's nice to hear about a different group of people in this town than I know, especially a chesed story.

Thanks for pointing me to your blog. I put your feed in my Google Reader.