The last two years at Philmont gave me the opportunity to meet many special people who I consider friends. I was thinking of a special young man, who made many tough decisions, while maintaining a sense of humour and always strengthening his faith. He joined the air force, and yes, I sure ribbed him about it.
He was a constant guest at my Shabbos table where he would ask questions about faith and ritual, and of course eat plenty of food. Our many conversations generally covered two topics, Philmont and faith. I remember one Shabbos dinner when among the guests were some orthodox Jewish staff who were advising him about religious issues in the military and began speaking in a yeshivish type of way as they assumed he was Jewish. I guess the name Jacob sounded Jewish. Jake, being very religious, not Jewish, just ate and did not respond,
Jake went to religious services almost every night, frequently cleaned up and prepared the chapel for services and helped whenever necessary. He is a very devout Catholic, but was first to comment on similarities to Judaism.
One of the reasons Joshua succeeded Moses in leading the Jewish people in the Torah and became a great military leader was that he took the time to sweep, clean up and prepare the Tabernacle for services.
May the Holy One watch over Jacob and guide him to accomplish great things and to lead others by his ways. May he go forth on his path and return to us safely, Amen
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven…A Time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance
In a small Jewish village some time ago there was a chasnah (wedding). Everyone came to the wedding where they sang, danced and ate a great seuda (feast). The happiness and gladness extended into the night as everyone enjoyed themselves.
The next morning came and it was time to clean up from the wedding celebration. The dishes had to be collected, the trash was gathered and the decorations taken down. A young man was sweeping the floor of the shul (synagogue). As his pile grew larger he saw there were many roses and petals scattered through the shul. He stopped for a moment and looked at the flowers lying around. His mind began to wander and he thought out loud, “All those beautiful roses had decorated the shul at the wedding the night before. Now that it was all over, they were scattered on the floor, crushed by the dancing and waiting to be thrown away.”
The young man was lost in thought when suddenly he heard a strange sound. One of the roses replied to him.
“Do you call this a waste?” the flower protested. “What is life anyway, yours or mine, but a means of service? My mission was to make some fragrance and beauty, and as I have done this, my life has not been wasted. What greater honor is there than to adorn a bride’s way to her beloved; what greater privilege than to help glorify the moment when a bride and groom seal their faith in each other by getting married?”
The little flower paused for a moment to watch the man’s face and then continued, “Roses are like people. They live in mitzvos (deeds), not in time. My fame was brief, only an hour, but you should have seen the joy in the bride’s face. I like to believe that I had something to do with it by giving her a special moment of happiness. So don’t cry or worry about me. My life has been worthwhile.”
After explaining herself, the rose was once more silent. The young man, startled from his daydream and a little wiser, with his work cleaning up the shul.
This story is excerpted from the new book, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort: A Child’s Workbook for Remembering, and Stories from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow helps children get by one of life’s most difficult moments.
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