Monday, August 06, 2007

These are the Lives that Have Influenced Mine ...

"At the Rabbi’s Table Erev Shabbos" (A Glimpse)

I was rushing home from work like a meshugener one Friday late afternoon. Actually it was already early evening and, in either case, after Shabbos had already begun. This was at a time of my early association with Rabbi Louis and his family, at the beginning of my adventures in Orthodox Judaism.

How very much I had wanted to make Kabbalos Shabbos on time, but no such luck!. At that time I was working for a Chicago printing business whose owner, my former boss and friend, was "Jewish" only by virtue of a Reform conversion. There was barely any accomodation offered to someone trying to become shomer mitvos.

This particular Friday night coincided with a time when I was just beginning to become “part of the Rabbi’s family,” a time when conditions at work were such that I rarely made it home on time before sundown … this day I knew was not going to be any different.

As it happened not only was I late for davening , but everyone had already gone home. Amazingly the door of the shul-- which was in rabbi’s basement-- was still open, as if it had been left open for me. I hadn’t called to forewarn Rabbi's family that I was coming but left unlocked it had been.

There I sat alone in the shul. Rabbi came down having heard me rustling around, I guess.

“Good Shabbos Alan,” he greeted me, probably not too terribly surprised that it was me, a relative newcomer, making a Herculean, however clumsy attempt to learn and implement Jewish Orthodoxy but stumbling dreadfully along the path, strewn with countless pitfalls and stumbling blocks.

“Shabbos, Rabbi,” I replied, feeling embarrassed by how late I was but certain that he’d understand.

“Tell you what. You daven maariv here and when your done come upstairs. Dinner will be awaiting you,” he assured me invitingly. So I did, I davened, ate dinner, and then went home as odd as that sounds, but it was within this shul I learned the meaning of genuine "hachnasas orchim"-welcoming of guests, in the tradition of Avraham Avinu.

Alan Busch

revised 8/6/07

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