| Parshah |

My New Donkey

“I don’t care how you showed up; the main thing is you’ve finally arrived”

“And Avraham arose early in the morning, and he saddled his donkey.” (Bereishis 22:3)


Rashi states that although Avraham was wealthy, he personally saddled his donkey due to his love of Hashem. Says Rashi: “Ahavah mekalkeles es hashurah — Love distorts norms.”
Rashi (Shemos 4:20) adds that Avraham’s donkey will be the same beast that Mashiach arrives on.
At first glance, Mashiach’s form of transport seems appropriate due to its honor of being used previously in one of the great watershed events in Jewish history: the Akeidah. Yet Chazal (Sanhedrin 98a) state that if Bnei Yisrael are on a high spiritual level, they’ll merit the arrival of Mashiach on Heavenly clouds. If however, Mashiach arrives in his time, despite the fact that at that time we are still undeserving, he’ll arrive in a lowly manner, on a donkey. How can we explain this discrepancy? (Rabbi Nosson Greenberg, Khal Machzikei Torah).

After a long (and partly healthy life) my ancient van was heading toward retirement. The upcoming pension party drew many reactions from my kids.

“Are we getting a new van?”

“Nope, we don’t need such a big car now. We’re getting a five-seater.”

“We’re downsizing?” Avi shrieked, as if I’d just announced we’d be moving to a one-bedroom basement.

“We should get a Tesla,” he countered with confidence. “It’s the best five-seater on the market, and it’ll save us a ton of money in gas. (Can anyone actually tell me how many years it takes in gas savings to make up the difference in price tag?)

“A Model X!” yelled Shloimie, who has no idea what a Model X is.

“I think we should buy a used car,” announced Binyamin, his serious Gemara kop in full gear. “Why buy a new car when it’ll get banged up on the narrow streets?”

Ah, truer words never spoken. We’ve often challenged our kids to find one car, on any road in Israel, which does not sport some scratch or dent. They’ve never succeeded.

Let’s give a mashal. A chassan splurged on a stretch limo to bring his kallah to the wedding hall. However, en route to the kallah, the limo gets a flat and never arrives. The kallah is waiting anxiously, scared she won’t make it to her own wedding, when a rusty decrepit pickup truck offers her a ride. With no choice, she climbs into the filthy open back, and arrives at the hall in a cloud of dust and rattling gears. Mortified, she’s speechless before her chassan. But he surprises her and says, “I don’t care how you came. I am so excited to marry you because I know your love for me knows no bounds. The main thing is that you arrived.”

Over the next few weeks, the suggestions were coming fast and furious.

“A Porsche!” Avi announced

“A C-HR! It’s a hybrid!”

“Let’s get two new cars! A Tesla and a C-HR!”

Hubby and I ignored them all. We were holding fast against the temptation of a trendy new car. We weren’t looking to make a statement, but to acquire a means of transportation.

At the time of Mashiach, Bnei Yisrael will be renewing their vows for eternity with our groom, Hashem. We’d love to merit showing up in a spiritual stretch limo. But we may have to get a ride instead on Avraham’s donkey.
Yet that donkey is Hashem’s way of saying, “My beloved, although you may have stumbled, I know your love for Me is intense, rooted in your Zeidy Avraham’s legacy, who saddled this very donkey out of love. That’s why I don’t care how you showed up; the main thing is you’ve finally arrived.”

The big day finally came, and I told the kids to meet me in our building’s parking lot, where I’d be pulling up in the latest addition to our family. Comments flew. Bets were placed. Curiosity was piqued. And every one of my kids was waiting outside as I pulled into our parking spot in a tiny Daihatsu that was older than Shloimie.

“It’s a joke,” said Avi in disbelief.

“Maybe Tatty is driving the Tesla,” insisted Yitzi, not willing to give up.

As I stepped out of the car, the only one delighted to see me was my grandson. “Car!” he shouted gleefully. “Savta’s car!”

Ah, the innocence of babes. It didn’t matter what I was driving. The main point was that I had arrived.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 866)

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