I had planned to write about some of the highlights from the hearings of the January 6 Committee. However, so many things happened this past week that I need to put that column on hold. I am sure that the Trumpians are upset. I guess they will have to find another way to get rid of their aggression.
On Tuesday, I went to my daughter Yael Rebecca’s graduation. She received a master’s degree in Social Work which is the same degree as my mother received. Another daughter, Shoshana, also received a master’s degree – in Psychology. She had a virtual graduation. My youngest daughter, Tovah, graduated from college but decided not to attend her graduation.
Although Yael’s graduation was outdoors, they limited each student to two guests (probably due to COVID), so my mother couldn’t go, even if she were physically able to go. When you get older, you have a different perspective. I only went to my law school graduation. All I remember was that it was long, and the keynote speaker was boring. Now, I hear the excitement of the attendees and the speakers, and I see individuals with their working career in front of them. There is unlimited potential. That should be the focus of the graduation. I also realize, looking at the group, that there is no guarantee that their hopes, dreams, and expectations will be met. It is hard to predict who will be successful. There are many people who, on paper, were thought to be a “can’t miss” success story, and yet end up going from job to job, never finding what they are looking for. I know individuals who were great students even being a year ahead but were unable to make a go at it in the workplace.
This excitement and hope for the future are also found at a wedding. As it is in evaluating graduates, there is no crystal ball to see what will be. However, the wedding is not the time to think of potential pitfalls. It is a time to be joyful with the chasan and kallah. Nevertheless, in considering the future, there are couples whom people thought were perfect for each other and are divorced or staying in an unhappy marriage. There are others whom people said they couldn’t imagine them together in a million years and they have a strong marriage.
I happen to have been at a wedding on Wednesday. It was at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, the same place I got married 32 years ago. Although there were renovations, some features remained from 1990. I thought that the area where the chasan’s tish was looked small. I didn’t remember it being so small. I also saw a former school roommate. Neither of us could remember the year we dormed together. It was a positive sentimental journey, except for one time during the ceremony. While waiting for the chasan to be walked down, I reminded myself that of those who walked Beth and me down, only my mother is still around. This is not even considering the guests.
My daughter Penina’s wedding was the first Sephardic wedding that I had been to. Some of the customs were new to me. The wedding at Manhattan Beach was the first Lubavitch wedding that I had been to. While the chasan and kallah were under the chupah, we were told to stand and a statement by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, which he made to a married couple at their wedding, was read. Also, when some people were called up, they were referred to as the Rebbe’s shliach (agent). Later, when I saw some people dancing with a picture, I figured that it was a custom to dance with a picture of the Rebbe. Instead, it was a picture of Donald Trump. Politics has so permeated our society that no place is sacrosanct.
The next day, I received a frantic call from a friend who thought he left his wallet on a bus. My reaction was that if he was lucky, someone would find the wallet and he would only be out his money. He called 511 to report the missing item and was told to call back later. He did not stop there. He wanted to go to the bus depot in College Point to see if the bus driver found it. I drove him there. They told him that no one had turned it in and the driver of the bus he had been on had not yet returned to the depot. We then left with the expectation that he would drive back later to check on it. However, we decided to turn around and go back to the depot so he could ask them if he could bring his car in. You cannot park on the street. He also wanted to give it one more shot before going home. While he was by the entrance, the bus he had been on came in. The bus driver saw him and said he remembered him. He told the bus driver that he had left his wallet on the bus and what seat he was in. The bus driver checked the bus, and the wallet was still there, untouched, and he gave it back to him. What we learned is a person must do as much he can to try to deal with the situation, even if the odds are against him. If we do our part, G-d will do His part.
I am the gabbai at the Hashkamah Minyan on Shabbos morning at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel. There was someone there last Shabbos who occasionally comes. I asked him if he wanted to be the shliach tzibur for Musaf. I thought he had been the chazan on other occasions. He agreed. During leining, when it came time to call up the person for the seventh aliyah, I mistakenly thought I had given him the aliyah. After davening, he told me that this was the first time that he had ever led Musaf davening. He also mentioned that next week was his brother’s yahrzeit. Some have the custom to have Maftir and lead Musaf the Shabbos before a parent’s yahrzeit. Although this was his brother, we both felt that this was clearly orchestrated by G-d, that I was the instrument through which he was able to give merit for the soul of the departed.
There are those who will look at the bus and the shul stories as mere coincidence. Life is not mere coincidences. Miracles happen every day. We just don’t realize it. Sometimes, it is so clear that we cannot avoid it.