The Great Rosh Hashanah Mystery
Rabbi Levi and his wife, Rebecca stood by the front doors as their congregation filed out of Bais Simcha, the only Orthodox synagogue in Sunshine, Florida, a little town west of Miami.
“Good Yomtov!” they said, commemorating the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
The Rabbi, dressed in his long black coat and black hat, shook hands with the men. Rebecca, wearing a light blue evening dress, with her wig perfectly coiffed, shook hands and hugged the women.
The last person to leave was 56 year old Yussie Yoblonski. His eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep, his beard was a thick stubble, and his long gray hair stood out in clumps around the bald spot on the back of his head. The expression on Yussie’s face matched his disheveled appearance – he looked perplexed, very perplexed.
“Rabbi, can I speak with you?” Yussie asked. “It’s very important.”
The Rabbi looked even more exhausted than Yussie. He had been up the previous night with their youngest son who had bronchitis. In between administering breathing treatments, the Rabbi wrote four sermons for the two day holiday.
“Yussie, is it possible that whatever is bothering you could wait until tomorrow? I am very tired right now.”
Yussie hung his head and mumbled, “Okay … never mind.”
Yussie did this so pathetically that the Rabbi felt a stab of guilt deep in his heart. The Rabbi automatically looked to Rebecca, who looked back at her husband, and then shrugged. Her shrug said: Okay, I’ll go back by myself to our home behind the synagogue, and put the children to sleep. Then I’ll try my very best to wait up for you, unless my eyes close because I, too, was up all night with our youngest son’s coughing and wheezing.
The Rabbi smiled back at his wife. He found it beautiful that one look and a gesture between them could convey so much meaning.
Rabbi Levi hurried to catch up with Yussie, and then touched Yussie’s shoulder.
“Come, Yussie,” he said. “Let’s go talk in my office.”
“No, Rabbi, I don’t want to be a bother.”
“It’s no bother.”
“No, I’ll wait until tomorrow.”
“Yussie, I’m going to ask one more time, and then I’m not going to ask again. Are you sure you don’t want to speak with me, now?”
Yussie smiled his innocent child’s smile, shrugged, and then followed Rabbi Levi to his small office in the back of the shul. The Rabbi took his place behind the desk, while Yussie paced.
“So nu, Yussie, what is the problem?” Rabbi Levi asked.
“Rosh Hashanah is the problem, Rabbi.”
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