BY VARDAH LITTMANN©
There was a large pile of palm branches on the pavement near our sukkah. My grand-daughters Hadar
and Shira, aged two and three respectively, dragged palm leaves from the pile and handed them to their aunt, who was standing on a ladder and throwing the fronds onto the sukkah roof. Their father objected that they were too young for such a job. But the two little angels insisted they wanted to continue.
My mind transported me back over the years, more than thirty years back. My eldest son was then almost two. We lived on a moshav in the south. In order to obtain s’chach, my husband needed to go to the other side of the moshav and cut branches from the enormous date palms that lined the fence at that end. Chaim Leibie insisted he wanted to accompany his father. My husband strapped him in to his green-animal-covered umbrella stroller and took him along.
Chaim Leibie sat on his dark-green throne and directed proceedings. He would point a pudgy finger at a certain branch and call out in his high-pitched baby voice, “That one, that one!” As it, did not make a difference to my husband which branch he cut, he willingly obliged the child. The baby was thrilled, and the peals of his delighted laughter rang out each time a branch he had designated fell to the ground.
When my husband had the amount he required, he tied the branches into two equal heaps. He then bound up each pile, tied each set to a handle of the stroller, and started out for home.
Chaim Leibie started crying that he wanted to help bring the s’chach home. In an attempt to calm the child, his father told him to lift his hand and place it on one of the handles. This, said his father, was really helping to get the greenery home.
As my husband neared the house, he called to me to come out. “Mommy, Mommy,” he said as I came toward them, “you can be so proud of Chaim Leibie. I really don’t know how I would have managed without him. He helped me so much.”
Harav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, tells us about a little fly who is riding along in one of the coaches of a train. He feels he needs to help the train move, so he puts his wing against the back wall of the engine and starts to push very hard. At the end of the ride he pats himself on the back for having enabled the train to reach its destination.
• • •
A Roman nobleman came to observe the proceedings at the Beis Hamikdash. When he saw the fire on
the mizbe’ach, he asked who had kindled it.
The kohamim said, “We did.”
“You are liars!” said the indignant nobleman. “I heard that your G-d sends the fire from heaven.”
Truth be told, he was correct. The fire on the mizbe’ach comes from Hashem. But we are commanded to bring two logs and light the fire. This was something the Roman non-Jew could never understand. There is a partnership between us and Hashem.
A Jew’s deeds, words, and thoughts affect the very fabric of creation. A little whispered tefillah can “change” a decree from illness to health. Hashem acts toward us in the way we behave to others.
When there was a Beis Din and they declared a leap year, the seasons themselves would change, making spring later. Our keeping the minute details of the halachos of Shabbos brings blessing to the world. Our observance of Shabbos is the generator that renews the world each week. Without it, the world would simply cease to exist.
This is the great importance of each and every Jew. This is the privilege and responsibility of being a Jew. Every act we do builds.
Published in Hamodia.