September 20, 2007

Postcards from Israel – Special Delivery

Special Delivery

I like the word 'postcard' because it connotes a picture of a foreign place and always contains a personal message. I would like to send out my own personal postcards to give a glimpse of life, a small peek into the wonders of living in this country.

A friend who was staying with us was due to return to return to Toronto last Wednesday night. The day before his departure, he saw an email asking if anyone flying to Toronto could bring back a sefer torah. I do not know how this message originated but if it was sent out to ten people, I imagine that within hours, it had circulated onto laptops and desks in Jewish homes and offices around the world and back again.

He called the phone number on the email and heard that the Torah was 'taken:' someone else had responded first. From this I learned that Torah deliveries must be a popular mission and all requests are snatched up fast. Our friend was despondent at not being able to fulfill this mitzvah and prepared his baggage to go to the airport.

The very evening of his flight, he received a call that the Torah was now available. Apparently, the original eager courier got the country right but the city wrong; he was going to Montreal and not Toronto. Was our friend still he interested? Of course! Addresses and phone numbers were exchanged.

At 1 am, a tiny rabbi with a long black coat and straggly white beard arrived at our home, a Sefer Torah in his arms. He had traveled in a cab from Jerusalem to our home for over an hour. We were all total strangers. He came into the house, took the Torah out of a duffle bug and laid it upon our dining room table. He then began to recite a few pasukim. He carefully rolled the torah back up, dressed it in a tallis and slipped it into a duffle bag, carefully marked with an arrow so that the Torah would not inadvertently be set upside down.

He then thanked my friend (gave us an invitation to come stay with him for a Shabbos) and slipped away into the night. My friend was left with a brand new sefer Torah probably worth about $30,000 and a long but meaningful flight ahead of him.

It is remarkable that a single email sent out into cyberspace can connect perfect strangers, enable a mitzvah and solidify the special trust that Jews have in one another. Even in these days of spiritual darkness, we trust strangers – and entrust them with something so valuable and a mission so important. .If my friend were to,
G-d forbid, drop that Torah, who knows how many Jews who would be fasting for 40 days.

And, as Jews, even in such a dog-eat-dog world, we are still very willing to (and in this case, literally) bend over backwards to help others. My friend had lots of luggage, a flight change in Munich with tortuous departure times – and yet he was thrilled to be able to put his personal needs aside and help out. We still are a very unique people.

I can just picture my friend – certainly not exhausted from a gruelling 14-hour voyage – to the contrary, elated…dancing through Canadian customs with an upright duffle bag!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are always welcome.