I

 always wondered about the name of my column, Shul with a View.

And I cannot take credit for the name, as when I first started writing the column seven-plus years ago, Shoshana Friedman, managing editor of Mishpacha, came up with the title.

I recently discovered that Shul with a View is a take-off on A Room with a View, a 1908 novel by English author E. M. Forster.

The book’s popularity (ranked 79th on a list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century) explains the public’s familiarity with the phrase “a room with a view,” and hence the brilliant segue into “Shul with a View.”

The potential peril of writing for a first-class magazine such as Mishpacha is falling into the bottomless pit of presumptuous pompousness. With the success of Mishpacha and its becoming the gold standard in Jewish journalism, the column has had the effect of creating “The Rabbi with the Big View of Himself.” I was easy prey when I was ensnared by arrogance and the pretentiousness of braggadocio.

Can you blame me?

Mishpacha is read worldwide, and when I’m asked at a chasunah in Williamsburg or at a banquet in Baltimore, “Rabbi Eisenman? From Mishpacha? I love your articles!” it’s no wonder I began to have a hyperbolic “View of Myself.”

The recently released collection of my writings published by ArtScroll (under the apropos title of Shul with a View) was yet another cause for my succumbing to the hazards of hubris.

ArtScroll is the archetype of Jewish publishing, and I was simultaneously humbled and honored when they chose my writings to become part of the ArtScroll canon of quality Jewish literature.

Some of my congregants had already heard about the book’s release, and congratulatory notes appeared in my inbox.

The incoming accolades dramatically inflated an already magnified “View of myself”!

Yet Hashem has His ways of pressing the “reset” button.

A week before Tishah B’Av, my wife injured her arm and was limited in her abilities. Neighbors appeared immediately, and soon there was a long line of families assisting with meals and errands.

Concurrent to assisting my wife, I indulged in savoring the congratulatory notes and in relishing the piling plaudits that were perpetually expanding my already swelled ego.

It was then I observed a simple act that thankfully realigned my priorities.

Binyamin Leiter is a special 12-year-old boy.

He comes to shul with his father and says, “Abba, that was a really great derashah.”

After Tishah B’Av, Binyamin’s mother took him to Twisted, the local ice cream parlor.

While there, Binyamin said to his mother, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we brought Rebbetzin Eisenman some ice cream? Let’s buy her a milkshake, because you don’t need both hands to eat it!”

Within five minutes, a delicious milkshake was being proudly carried by Binyamin and hand-delivered to my wife.

Later at Maariv, I told Binyamin. “You did such an amazing chesed for my wife when you brought her the delicious milkshake!”

Binyamin was smiling from ear to ear.

The epiphany was not lost on me.

It is not the author of a book who is to be lauded.

The caring and compassionate Jews who perform unrecorded daily acts of chesed are the genuine heroes deserving of our praise.

Many of the best stories will never be told.

Many inspirational acts will never be preserved by the printed word.

The chesed performed daily by the Binyamins of this world are the real masterpieces that are preserved and recorded by He Who “publishes” the only book that matters.

Books come, and books go.

The kindness of a 12-year-old boy bringing a milkshake to an incapacitated rebbetzin endures forever. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 723)