Tishrei is the Hebrew month of Jewish Fall holidays from Rosh Hashanah to Simchas Torah and everything in between. Now that we celebrated all these wonderful holidays as a campus community here’s a short story and a parable as food-for-thought.
First a short story that my yeshiva friend Rabbi Pesach Schmerling (of Chabad in Far Rockaway) shared with me just before Shabbat:
Rabbi Schmerling heard this story from his father-in-law Rabbi Binyamin Klein who was one of the Rebbe’s long-time secretaries and assistants. At the climax of the Tishrei holiday season of 1977 the Lubavitcher Rebbe suffered a massive heart-attack during Hakafot dancing and thankfully & miraculously recovered under the care of a very dedicated medical team to resume his vigorous schedule and leadership. As a subsequent Tishrei season approached, both the Rebbe’s medical team and his wife Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn were especially concerned because of the holiday’s very taxing schedule. They continued to carefully monitor the Rebbe’s health during that holiday season.
When Simchas Torah was over, Rabbi Binyamin Klein (knowing her ongoing concern for the Rebbe’s health and her active involvement with the medical team) remarked to the Rebbetzin, with a sense of relief: “We got through another Tishrei in peace (and all is well)!” The Rebbetzin responded, “We don’t refer to it as getting through it or over it, instead we call it adding another Tishrei” (i.e. being enriched by another Tishrei, having another Tishrei – and all of its spiritual treasures – under our belt).
Now for the parable, which I recently received from another Chabad on Campus colleague by way of Rabbi Mendel Kalmenson (who heard it from his father) – adapted here:
When going to weddings it is easy to spot the bride. She’s dressed in a special flowing white gown, no else at the wedding is dressed quite that way. She stands out, unique. But the groom, not as much. Even if he wears a tux, often others in the wedding party do as well. He’s not the only one taking photos with the bride either. If you are invited to a wedding, and don’t know the groom personally, how would you pinpoint the groom?
Here’s the best way to know. The one who takes the bride home at night after the wedding – that’s the groom.
The story and the parable teach us something very important about a rich season of holidays like this. The goal isn’t merely to get through it, but to be enriched by them. Not only to have a great time at the party but to bring it home with us. To keep the spirit and messages and inspiration of the holidays lasting and lasting, living on within us.