I was certain that I posted this story a few years ago, but it won’t come up in a search. It is certainly worthy and valuable to share again.

A few years ago, we were driving to or from NYC a few days before Rosh Hashanah and we stopped off to eat with the kids at one of the Monsey area Kosher eateries. It wasn’t a busy time of day, we had the place almost to ourselves, but then a bus/van pulled up with a group of adults from a group home or the like, and they all trooped in, shepherded by their aides and counselors. The group had varying levels of abilities and handicaps. 

One particular fellow was dressed in Chassidic garb, the full get-up with vest, hat and exposed tzitzit. He looked to be in his twenties, maybe even thirties, but like much of the group wasn’t acting at his biological age level. He was rushing back and forth to the condiment bar to try to sneak more ketchup packets. It was a game of sorts he was playing, while the counselor tried to keep him from doing it, he would keep at it. It was sad to see an older person with this level of childish behavior. 

Their food wasn’t ready yet, so after he tired of the ketchup game, he came over to our table. He told me with all earnestness, “I am a Bnon Shel Kedoshim (descendant of righteous Rebbes) and can give a blessing.” I nodded, feeling pitiful and curious at the same time. And then his blessing in Yiddish: “May the coming year be better than the past year.”

I was floored. One sentence that said so much and asked for so little. Maybe it was something he heard. Maybe it was from his own heart. But this wish was so simple, so powerful, so wise! It didn’t deny the challenges or sorrows of the past year, but didn’t bemoan or complain about them either. It wasn’t asking for endless bountiful miraculous blessings or radical drastic change for the coming year. All it asked for the coming year to be better than the year that past. 

And I love the way he took pride in that he was Bnon Shel Kedoshim! This man had so little. He was living in a group home, obviously dealing with a lot of personal limitations and challenges. But he saw himself as special, he had the ability to bless others! 

Every year since, in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we remember this special Chassid’s blessing. And we share this wish – and the background story – with all of you.