Who will forget what we were doing when the horror that came to be called 9/11 was unfolding on our TV screens twelve years ago today? Who would argue that our view of the world wasn’t changed by that day’s events? You just have to drive by the NIH, or the White House, or check in for a flight to see. Syria is a different kind of disaster; if it weren’t for wanting the President’s word to mean something, it would be a little hard to rationalize bombing empty buildings to make a point when 100,000 were killed before the poison gas and we did next to nothing.
Last time we talked about the passage of time, the big anniversaries (Battle of Gettysburg, March on Washington, Kennedy Assassination) and how Rosh Hashanah helps us mark time and think about how to use time more wisely. This Wednesday let me share my final helping of High Holiday material that won’t make it to prime time.
The story is of a man who comes to a Brooklyn shoe store in 1949. He presents a wrinkled, tattered shoe repair ticket. He says, “Mister, you’re not going to believe this, but I brought shoes to you in 1942 before I enlisted in the war. I forgot about them. I enlisted, I served, I got out. Thank God we won the war. Later I moved to Baltimore, married, had a family. Last week my wife is cleaning out my old suits and finds this shoe repair ticket. It jogged my memory. I was going to be here in New York on business today, and I thought I’d give it a shot because they were my favorite pair of shoes.” The shoe repairman looks at him incredulously and says, “Unbelievable; how do you expect me to have shoes after seven years?” “Would you please go look? It’s very important to me.” “Okay, what did you want done?” “I wanted the soles repaired.” “You wanted soles repaired. Okay, let me go look.” He goes into the back, comes out 20 minutes later and says, “Mister, you won’t believe it, we have your shoes.” “You have my shoes after 7 years? I can’t believe it. I’m so grateful. Well, can I have them?” The shoe repairman says, “Come back Tuesday, they’ll be ready then.”
We think we have all the time in the world to repair our souls – get the pun? – and yet, even though we have had all this time, we delay doing it. Yom Kippur, which touches many senses through its crush of people and powerful prayers and the humbling fast, beckons our return to being the best persons we can be. It is our ticket to a year to be proud of. Please don’t wait to start on the repairs.
Best wishes for a good Wednesday, a good new year and that by Saturday night when we belt out that final Avinu Malkeinu you will have completed a chatimah tovah (a good sealing in the Book of Life.) Bill Rudolph
P.S. Check your tickets for service times and locations. Bring non-perishables for the Manna Food Center collection at Kol Nidre – in affluent Montgomery County, Manna needs to distribute approximately 16,000 pounds of food every single day of operation. Don’t miss the Seminar; if you didn’t get the text yesterday, let me know. And don’t forget your assignment: make a list of things you did in the last year that you wish you hadn’t done. And then make a list of things you did in the last year that made you proud of the kind of person you are. Bring it with you to services. It will remind you of the capacity we all have for doing evil and for doing good and will help us make the first steps in repairing our souls.