| Shul with a View |

At This Moment

When he looks back to that day, there is only one memory he cherishes: the memory of his father.


When his father, an academic who enjoyed physics over sports, asked his 14-year-old son where he would like to go for their much anticipated day of father-son bonding, the young boy didn’t hesitate.

“An Islanders game.”

Inwardly, the father cringed. Attending a professional sporting event was one thing. Going to a hockey game — where adult men get into full-blown fistfights — was quite another. It was not his definition of an ideal evening out.

Yet he’d given his son his word, and if that meant heading to the Coliseum to watch the New York Islanders, so be it.

When they arrived, the boy realized they had front-row seats, right next to the penalty box. Yet as they settled in, the protective plexiglass shield in front of them curbed his feeling of really being at the game.

The father noticed his son’s discomfort, and approached one of the event staff to ask if they could change seats to a place with an unhindered view of the ice. The staff member explained that due to safety concerns, it was impossible to change seats.

Perhaps it was his father’s attempts coupled with the kindness of a man who felt bad for the boy, but during a break, the timekeeper from the penalty box handed our 14-year-old friend a puck.

As the boy held the puck, he could not believe he was actually touching a puck that Mike Bossy, his favorite player, had most certainly touched with his hockey stick.

The boy held on to that puck for decades.

Yet when our former 14-year-old friend thinks back to that game — which took place in 1986, almost four decades ago — he doesn’t dwell on the details of the game.

When he looks back to that day, there is only one memory he cherishes: the memory of his father.

His father was not a sports enthusiast. He was a man of study and research who enjoyed contemplating thoughts of science.

Yet this same man bought choice seats for a special private outing with his son, even facilitating his son’s acquisition of the beloved Mike Bossy puck. The father of our young hockey fan successfully conveyed the message that there was nothing more important at that moment than spending quality private time with his son.

At that moment, the son felt like the most cherished person in his father’s life.

The puck eventually disappeared. Yet the heartwarming feeling of being loved by his father remains forever.

This former hockey fan no longer focuses on the New York Islanders. He is now immersed in Torah. Yet that evening remains etched on his neshamah, and he continues to draw inspiration from that long-ago evening.

He learned that night the meaning of true love. He learned that letting the people you are with know they are the focal point of your life is the most authentic way to show them you care. And he committed to being just like his father, to always fully focus on the person he is with.

If you are privileged to spend time with our former Mike Bossy fan, you will certainly be mesmerized by his Torah knowledge and swept away by his brilliant eloquence. Yet most importantly, when you speak with him you will feel, as I have, that nothing is more precious to him at that moment than you.

If you are privileged to meet with our protagonist, ask him about the hockey puck.

You can be sure it will bring a smile to the face of Rabbi Eytan Feiner.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1011)

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