Tatty accompanied me once more to the secondhand clothes place. “What can I do for you?” Reb Nissan asked me with a smile.
“I told my three good friends about your special collection,” I told him, “and they’d really like to come see it, if that’s all right with you.”
Reb Nissan stroked his beard thoughtfully. “I don’t feel right about letting people see it this way. I showed you because I felt the need to show someone, after the things had been hidden away since the move. But it’s not right to pull them any which way out of a box and just put them on a table. At my old home everything was beautifully set out on shelves, arranged by type and color, and I put up black wallpaper to serve as a contrasting background. It was spectacular! All the elements of the display combined to create an aesthetic experience that showed off the exhibits to best effect. Do you understand, Bentzion?”
Well… the truth was I didn’t really understand every word [Good for you for admitting it! Batya], but I did kind of grasp the general idea. So I nodded, and Reb Nissan continued, “It’s important to treat objects of art with the respect they deserve, to present them in a proper manner. It’s like the difference between setting a table with fine china, or eating straight out of a pot while standing in the kitchen.”
“Okay, so we won’t—” I began to say. Yes, Yoel and Yom Tov and Tulli wanted to see the collection, but that wasn’t the main thing. Our mission was to make Reb Nissan happy, so if he didn’t want…
Reb Nissan smiled at me. “And yet, if there’s no table and fine china, it’s better to grab a snack from the refrigerator than to go hungry, is it not? Bring your friends over. I’ll be glad to show them the collection.”
I left his house feeling confused. “Does he really want to show the collection this way, or is he just doing us a favor?” I asked.
“I think that even this way it will mean a lot to him,” Tatty replied.
I stopped at Asher’s door, and Tatty went on home. Now I had to knock and ask to talk to him… like a pest who keeps butting in where he isn’t wanted.
I didn’t knock. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I trudged miserably back home. What should I do? Maybe ask Yom Tov or Yoel to speak with Asher? But it would seem strange. It was me who was his neighbor, not them.
“Where were you?” asked Tova. “At the new neighbors again?”
“Why do only you always go to them?” Moishy complained. “I want to go too!”
“You’re too little,” I began to answer, and suddenly realized that this was my chance. “Moishy, dear, want to go to the new neighbors? Come, I’ll give you a note for their boy. Knock on their door and ask whoever opens to give it to him, and have him send me an answer back. All right?”
Yes, I would send Moishy in my place! How simple!
Only it wasn’t that simple. I had to explain slowly two more times before Moishy understood exactly what to do.
Then I had to write the note.
I thought for a while, and wrote:
Hi, Asher, my friends and I are going to visit our neighbor, Reb Nissan, to see his special Judaica collection. Would you like to come along? Bentzi
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 743)
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