I recently heard a heartwarming story of a simple man living in Jerusalem.* Every morning after prayers he would return home to his wife to share a cup of warm “sachlav” and then promptly set out for his job at the dry cleaners in the center of town. After exchanging greetings with the owner, his focus would turn to his daily tasks. He began by holding up each stained item, and just before cleaning it, he would share a moment of disappointment with the garb.
“You were most likely purchased by your owner for a wedding and then you were used only on Shabbat. Now the best you could hope for is to be worn on a weekday.”
With this in mind, the man would carefully go about removing the stains, intending to return the item to its former glory, thus hoping it would find favor, once again, in its owner’s eyes.
While this man may have been described as simple, there is truly nothing simple about him. The ability to relate to an item of clothing and show compassion requires a deep level of connection, one which we do not encounter every day.
And yet, in my job as a seller of homes, the idea of finding connection or even compassion for a physical object is not something as foreign to me as I would have thought. Yes, regarding the homes I have sold over the years, many contracts were signed, checks and keys exchanged, and, at least as far as I was able to discern, some sellers never looked back. But there were others, in fact many others, who would lead me into a room and for a moment the seller’s face would flood with emotion, hearkening back to some memory, to some life event which took place within those four walls and to which this event might even owe its existence. Inevitably these clients would then share stories and tales of family and friends, of happy times and also truly difficult times.
In the not-so-distant past I had considered selling my own home and buying something smaller to live in. I can’t go so far as claiming that our plans didn’t materialize because of an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for my home, but it certainly made me think twice. Especially relating to the memories of this time of year with my whole family gathered around our dining room table bedecked with exotic fruits and our special honey dish radiating gold all around it.
The warm feelings contained in that room are of a close family unit happy to share the milestone that is Rosh Hashanah with each other.
I confess I turned to my dining room and said to no one in particular, or maybe to the room itself, “You know what went on in here. You know how much work we put into this whole endeavor, and if anyone comes asking, you can bear witness that it was beautiful and it was real.”
Of course, I know that my family is more than the wood and cement we happen to live in, just as the dry cleaner in Jerusalem understood that a garment, while it may “make the man,” represents just a small part of the true value of a person. But, as we sit this year at our tables, let’s take a moment to be thankful for our homes, in whatever physical or aesthetic state they may be, and not take for granted that they, after all, allow us to have “a home for the holidays. “
* Like the Eyelids of the Morning—Haim Sabato
Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V&N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck. Send your thoughts and comments to [email protected] or call 201 826 8809.