May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

These days people complain a lot. Politics, weather, sports, yeshiva tuition, work, bullying, taxes etc. Although there are plenty of things to legitimately grouse about, we sometimes tend to create even more issues to harp on. It never ends!

Then why do I feel so good right now? Because we live in such an incredible time in human history.

Yesterday was the first day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot. I was taking a break from work to get some lunch and was walking in midtown. I picked up a sandwich at Jerusalem Cafe and headed up to the New York Public Library to eat in the sukkah put up by Chabad Lubavitch of Midtown Manhattan. As I approached the sukkah, a young boy holding a set of the four species asked if I had shaken lulav and etrog that day. I gave the boy a little smile, told him I had already done so and thanked him for the offer.

After washing my hands outside the sukkah, I entered and quickly found a seat where I said the bracha of hamotzi and started to eat. A short while later, as I was finishing my sandwich, a gentleman sitting at my table asked if I would help him make a mezumin for bentching. I said yes, of course.

After I finished bentching and was walking along Bryant Park on my way back to my office, my mind wandered to something my father had told me about my grandfather. My grandfather was a furrier. He worked in sweatshops stitching together furs from early in the morning until well into the night way before there was unionized labor. According to my father, my grandfather would need to find a new job every Sunday. Why? Because every Friday he would ask his boss to take off early for Shabbat and the answer would always be that he needed to make the choice between Shabbat and his job. He always chose Shabbat.

And that’s when it struck me. We truly live in a wonderful time. When I think of a world where my grandfather had to find a new job every week, the fact of my being offered to shake a lulav and make a mezumin in a public sukkah after having just taken off two days for Yom Tov without putting my job in jeopardy, no matter how commonplace today, is truly an awesome thing.

Yes, life is hard. The world is a complicated place and getting more complicated all the time. There’s plenty to kvetch about. But the ability to openly practice our religion in ways my grandfather could not imagine makes this a great world as well.

By David Goldstein


David Goldstein is a software quality assurance engineer by trade and president of Congregation Ohr Torah in West Orange by compulsion.

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