July 12, 2024
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July 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chayei Sarah: The Cosmic Wheel

In all of David Rosen’s 15 years on the face of the planet Earth, he had always gotten everything he ever wanted.

When he was seven years old, his older brother Joseph had a fantastic Wilson baseball glove made from soft black leather, with a deep double-reinforced web, signed by Derek Jeter. David had always wanted a mitt just like Joey’s, and lo and behold, when his brother received a new glove for his 10th birthday, David got the old one. Just like he always wanted, sort of.

When he was eight years old, David wanted a G.I. Joe action figure, just like Joey’s. It came with a helmet and a bazooka that fired real plastic shells. G.I. Joe even had a really cool eye patch. So when Joey grew older and lost interest in playing with Joe, David acquired the action figure. By then the helmet was a bit dented, and all the plastic bazooka shells were missing, but it was still a fun toy, and David was glad to have it. He was always a good sport.

The same story held true for a long string of bicycles that the Rosen brothers shared over the years. First Joey had a red Big Wheels tricycle that David took over when he could reach the pedals. That was followed by a Toys “R” Us special with training wheels that lasted David for a few years, after Joey was done with it.

Next came a Schwinn Grey Ghost Stingray that Joey got when he was nine. It was a five-speed with a handlebar twist-shifter, a banana seat and chrome fenders. David loved that bike, and he hoped that someday he would have something just like it for himself. Two years later he got Joey’s bicycle. David had the tape on the handlebars redone at the local bicycle shop, and despite a few scratches on the paint job, it was pretty much as good as new.

Joey then moved up to a Schwinn Varsity 10-speed, with a double shifter, racing handlebars and hand brakes. When David watched Joey riding it with his friends, Joey looked so grown up. David always knew that someday he would get a bike just like Joey’s.

And he did.

When David was 15 years old, he decided that it was time to get himself some new transportation. The frame of the Varsity was getting a bit too small for him, no matter how high he lifted the seat. Also, his friends had much more sophisticated bicycles. David understood that it was time to junk his 38-pound Chicago-built two-wheeled tank and get something a bit lighter and more up to date. Perhaps something that had actually been assembled in the twenty-first century. Joey had taken his present bicycle with him to college, and there was no hand-me-down to take over. So David dug into the money he had earned babysitting and mowing lawns and a bit of his bar mitzvah stash and headed over to The Cosmic Wheel, a local bike shop.*

The selection in the store was staggering. There were Treks, Giants, Haros, Cannondales, Raleighs, Bianchis, Gitanes and Mongooses. Mountain bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, commuter bikes and hybrids. It was dizzying and exhilarating. The salesman gave David a tour of his options, based on his needs and his price range.

In the end David chose a Trek 7.2 FX. It was a hybrid design, which allowed for on-road and off-road use. It had an aluminum frame, a 24-speed drivetrain, a Shimano EF 50 shifter, Matrix rims and Bontrager tires. David chose one in Newport Blue. It was a beautiful bicycle, and when he took it for a test ride down Main Street in Ridgefield Park, David loved the way it felt.

David had his wallet out to pay for the bicycle when his cellphone rang.

“Hey, Davey, it’s Joey.”

“Hey Joe, what’s new?”

“Mom tells me you’re going to buy yourself a new bicycle.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“What kind?”

“A Trek 7.2,” David said proudly.

“Don’t do that,” Joey said. “I’ve got a Bianchi Giro hanging on the wall of my dorm room doing nothing. I never ride it. And it’s got a top-of-the-line Shimano 150 shifter and a carbon frame. It’s a beauty. Dude, it’s like a $1,500 bicycle. And it’s yours if you want it.”

“What color is it?”

“Canary yellow.”

David did like yellow.

David stared at the $400 Trek upon which he was about to blow all of his life’s savings and thought for a moment. It was true that Joey’s bike was a much better model, and it was a very nice offer from his brother.

“Joseph my brother, I’m going to say thanks but no thanks. I think I’m going to buy the Trek.”

“Davey, don’t be crazy. I’m offering you the deal of a lifetime.”

“I know, but I think I really want to buy this for myself. It’s time I give up on the hand-me-downs.”

“Suit yourself, Dude. I was just trying to help.”

“Don’t think I don’t appreciate it,” David said. “You know, I think I’m kind of feeling like Avraham Avinu did when he bought the Ma’arat Hamachpela to bury his wife Sarah.”

“How’s that?” Joey asked.

“Avraham wanted the cave as a burial plot, and the owner, Ephron haChiti, said he would give it to him for free, but Abraham insisted on paying. Avraham understood that true ownership only came with paying for things and taking possession. And the purchase of Ma’arat Hamachpelah was the Israelites’ first real claim to the ownership of the land of Israel. It was our first deed of purchase, and it gave us Jews actual real estate in the Holy Land. Just like me buying my first bicycle for myself.”

“So then you didn’t like all the bicycles and toys that I bequeathed to you over the years?”

“No, I was very happy with them, especially the stingray, but I think that, just like Abraham, I’m getting tired of being a ger vetoshav, a wanderer. I need to put down roots and stake my claim. But instead of a cave, I’m buying a bike.

“Good one, Davey.”


“So, can I try out your new bicycle when I come home for winter break?”

“I suppose I owe you that much, if not for all the bicycles you gave me, then at least for G.I. Joe.”

“Sorry about the bazooka.”

“It’s O.K. I’ve moved on.”


*An actual bicycle store in Ridgefield Park, N.J. Sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction.

By Larry Stiefel

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