I wanted to take a moment and share with you one of the most beautiful experiences that I have felt in my brief career as a regional director of NCSY. Chanukah is a challenging time of the year for me as the second night of Chanukah commemorates the Yahrtzeit of my grandmother. In my mind Yahrtzeits are most challenging when they occur when it is natural to have your family around. Anyways this evening our son Akiva Yisrael smiled in anxious anticipation of lighting the Chanukah candles (ok so not the actual lighting of the Chanukah candles (he is only 16 months old) but rather the dancing and cookies that go with the lighting process) and it was such a sweet and sincere smile I thought to myself who would have enjoyed his sheer joy at doing a mitzvah more than my grandmother Ale HaShalom. It is because my grandmother was most happy when seeing other people happy; she personified the midda of caring for others so much so that your mood became her mood. It was truly a bittersweet moment. Following candle lighting I had the opportunity to speak at the Brooklyn Chapter meeting. I shared a beautiful idea of the Meshach churchman on Chanukah as to why it seems as though we commemorate the miracle of the menorah and not as much the miracle of the war. One of the teens, Bari Fuchs was mikavenet to the Meshach Churchman and pointed out that wars can sometimes be decided by fluke (as if there is such a thing as fluke, or luck) but the ner and the shemen were totally in the world of miracles and no one could right that off as the Maccabees strategies were ahead of their time, they were braver, they got lucky etc. It was then that I had the privilege of wishing mazal tov to the chapter meeting’s guest of honor as R’ Zucker and I presented Naphtali Stein with a set of chum shim as well as the series “touched by a story”. You see the chapter meeting was also a seudas Mitzva for Naphtali as we celebrated his brisk milah. When I was done speaking he came over to me with a tear in his eye and thanked me for everything that NCSY had done for him, it was at that time I broke down as I realized that those of us in the room that night would be more touched by his story than he would be by us, NCSY or even the series of books “touched by a story”. What a tribute to my grandmother, someone else who could be more concerned with the mood of others than with their own.
A bittersweet evening turned into an emotional evening that was a tribute to NCSY, Naphtali and ultimately was a fulfillment of presume nisa.