Faithful readers are rare, devoutly to be cherished
Well done! You made it! In the welter of ads for thousand-dollar watches, pricey jewelry, tempting foods, luxury clothing and high-end hotels, you managed to find this modest little column hidden in the tail-end of this mega-issue. You are to be congratulated. Only an intrepid and dedicated reader would slosh through the jungle of material goodies to reach this point. Even the Table of Contents offers no solace, because it, too, is buried forty pages into the magazine and requires its own Table of Contents for it to be found.
Faithful readers are rare, devoutly to be cherished. They are not fickle, but forgiving, and do not expect a home run very time. Even though they are highly discerning and expect the highest standards, they nevertheless settle for singles and doubles, and are even ready to overlook the inevitable strikeouts and occasional disappointments. And they slog doggedly through a veritable labyrinth in order to read this column.
In truth, there is something to be said for appearing last in every issue. For one thing, those who finally reach it after turning 200 mega-pages, often without page numbers, are too exhausted to be critical. In addition, there are those who perversely read magazines from the back, so that they arrive at this column first. (Not to mention that frum readers always read from right to left….) Further, appearing last in the magazine does wonders for one’s humility. When one is last in line, pride and arrogance are truly out of place. For example, being hidden in the back has changed my life: Instead of being hopelessly egocentric, I have been transformed into the most docile of men, truly mega-humble.
Besides which, keep in mind that many of the great men in our history were born last in their families. Yitzchak was born after Yishmael; Yaakov was born after Eisav; Moshe Rabbeinu was born after Miriam and Aharon; King David was the youngest of eight brothers. When Yaakov goes out to meet his murderous brother, Eisav, he places his beloved Rachel in the rear, because, as Rashi (Bereishis 33:2) puts it, Yaakov felt that “Acharon acharon chaviv — the very last is the most precious.” And, of course, Adam and Eve were last in creation.
And so, as we step cautiously into the new year, let us celebrate those who fearlessly cross the threshold into heavy magazines and courageously trek through the endless pitfalls and beguiling temptations, resisting the lures of the beckoning byways and fetching detours, faithfully staying the course until they arrive at their final recompense and ultimate destination: the back pages.
I am mega-grateful for you, dauntless reader. Without you, it would be mega-lonely back here. May you have a mega-good year.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 980)
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