May 23, 2016, Israel
It is time to tell this story. Life is not easy, we all need something to hold on to, something to believe in. Something or someone to tell us that "everything will be alright" no matter how bad things are, no matter how gloomy the future looks, no matter what dangers lurk ahead.
A child turns to his parents. In the early stages of life it is the parents who are assigned the task of making this crazy world make some sense. The parents must make the child feel secure enough to venture out on his own and eventually find his own way in life.
In life we will face many storms. We shall not be able to avoid them, sooner or later we must learn to dance within the storm, weather the storm of life.
The father, the papa, traditionally is the head of the family, the mother sets the tone of the family and fills the home with warmth and love. Together they provide an environment of security.
When my dear father passed away we had to go through his things. The item that struck me the most was his wallet, his holy precious wallet. To see his wallet, while he was no longer....
You see my father's wallet represented love and security. If something bad happened, a sudden huge expense hit me, or any of my brothers, dear dad would reach into his pocket and take out his old wallet. He would open it up and take out a bill or two. And suddenly things were not so bad, suddenly the world was not such a dark and scary place. There was someone who took the edge off the pain, made the pain a little lighter.
Ay..this world we live in...what can a man do but make an effort to soften the blows, to ease the pain. This is our tradition.
I can still see his wallet, lifeless without him, meaningless without him. The wallet that represented security, love. I follow this same example: reach into your pocket, take out a few bills and suddenly, for the recipient, things are not so bad anymore, there is a ray of sunshine coming through the dark clouds.....of life.
To have such a father, such a man, such a role model. You do not need to be rich to be generous. In our tradition even the poorest of the poor are obligated to give a little to others. My dear Uncle Seymour used to say, "I am not rich I am just generous". How I miss him. Ah...the Katz men, emotional but good, kind and generous. And life takes its toll...we miss those who are no longer here.
The wallet, a way of saying...whatever pain this world inflicts upon you I will be there to make it better, I will not abandon you, I will never leave you alone. I will help you get through this. It will be alright. I will hold your hand in the storm.
We may not all be rich but we all can be good. It would be nice to be rich, so we could help more people....oy, if I were a rich man...
I can still reach into my pocket and take out some money to ease someone's pain and I say, thank you Dad for setting this example.
Our traditions keep us strong, our Jewish traditions that have been handed from father to son and mother to daughter for nearly four thousands years, and our personal family traditions. Ease the pain of others, help the strangers in our midst, the widow, the orphan, the ill, the bereaved.
May we have a thousand reasons to rejoice, may we live together in peace, may our wallets always be open to help others. May we honor the legacy of our fathers, our mothers, and our people.