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Funny The Things We Remember

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Illustration by M. Dibdin Spooner

The boys had a great deal of difficulty going to sleep this evening. After many, many attempts, I managed to convince Peach to stay in his own bed by promising to stay with him until he fell asleep. And as I knelt next to his bed, feelings of guilt reared their ugly heads. As they have done every time I have knelt down since the time I was excoriated in the midst of a Chanukah dinner when I was young.

As an act of true chesed, my parents had invited the local mohel to join us for dinner one Chanukah. Old and widowed, Rabbi F. paid scant attention to the ruckus we children were making. Scant attention, that is, until out of the corner of his eye, he spied something that caused a violent intake of breath.

“You!” he cried, “Stop vat are you doink!”

Was he speaking to me? I didn’t move a muscle.

“You dere. I am spekink to you.”

Rabbi F. came over to where I was kneeling down to speak to my little brother.

“You must get up. Vee don’t kneel like dat. Dat’s vat dey do. It’s avodah zara. Idolatry. Get up. Get up.”

He went to demonstrate how one might crouch in such a manner that it not mimic kneeling. Which, by the way, is much easier to do if the one in question is not wearing a dress or skirt.

It is only with a great deal of distance that I can appreciate Rabbi F’s heartfelt desire to teach me proper behaviour. Because, boy, it scared the hell out of me at the time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Friday, 14 January 2011 4:17 pm

    When Rabbi F. finished a bris, he always patted the cheek of the father who was standing by, having just recited the blessing “l’hachniso biv’rito….” I asked Rabbi F. why he did this. He responded, “It’s to prevent the father from fainting.” As is now clear, this was a man (alav ha-shalom) who got right to the point without any chochmas.

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