Zeide muses . . .
We sit along a well-used, white, oil-cloth covered table. The Ein Ya’akov books are open for today’s lines.
“From the rising sun until it sets . . .” — tea with sugar. WITH — the only English word here. I’m the only speaker of English sitting on the bench, but no matter. My great-grandfather hunches over my shoulder, whispering.
His whisper swirls through the mouth of the zogger — the one who says what’s written, and I hear.
“Someone who reads the Megillah backwards didn’t go out.” Go out? Where? Why read it backwards anyway? Spoiler alert!
The table sprouts glasses of sweet tea, too hot to drink. The sun is setting, but slowly. I dovvened this morning, and then we sat down to drink hot tea with sugar quickly.
“I heard that you’re from Chicago. The Rebbe was in Chicago.” Perhaps my Zeide Segal saw him. (Now I’m Zeide Segal.) “Do you remember whose yohrtzeit is tomorrow?”
The Chicago connection fails me. The tea connection doesn’t. The Rebbe was escorted from a wintery train platform to a hotel where they surely served him — a glass of hot tea with sugar. A glozz tay.
“Every year I go up to the Mount of Olives to pay my respects. But this year . . . it’s dangerous. Reb Boruch Mordecai of Bobruisk is my ancestor.” The Great Luminary. The Spicy, Biting Sharp. Wise but Humble. He was summoned to the Yeshivah of Above, 14 Elul 5617.
But it’s not dangerous here in Jerusalem of Above. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll go pay respects.
“Absolutely not. It’s dangerous. I take no responsibility.”
This was worn into the pavement of Mazkeret Moshe Street near Congregation Yismach Moshe. I wore my hiking boots then, and then again when a Yerushalmi bochur accompanied me to the Mount of Olives Cemetery. “Aim for the resting place of the holy Ohr HaChaim, but swerve south about ten meters before you reach his tziyun.” Believe me, I toiled and I found.
Congregation Knesseth Israel is hosting me for this evening’s hot tea and Ein Ya’akov lines. “From the rising sun until it sets . . .” — tea with sugar.
- Ein Ya’akov –
- “From the rising sun until it sets . . .” – Psalms 113:
- the only English word here – Tea has probably entered the English language from Ancient Chinese after several hand-offs over time. Sugar has probably entered the English language from Sanskrit after a number of hand-offs over time.
- “Someone who reads the Megillah backwards” – Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah, 17a.
- didn’t go out – I’m having fun with the Hebrew term that means “didn’t fulfill the mitzvah.”
- The Rebbe was in Chicago – His Holiness, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Scheersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, visited Chicago in 1942.