Envious Angels on S. Carrollton

Thursday, 16 August, 2018 - 2:26 pm

Last week I was driving down S. Carrollton Ave. Passing Belfast St., I saw a member of our community, Berry Silver, who is a realtor, showing someone a house in the neighborhood. His Yarmulke was perched on his head and his Tzitzis were flapping in the summer breeze. As I was thinking how nice it is to see such a sight in New Orleans, I recalled an encounter with the Rebbe that I heard about 25 years ago. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone, a senior colleague, formerly of Sydney, Australia, shared this story with me in 1993. I spent that year in Sydney as a Rabbinic intern sent by the Rebbe along with a group of 15 friends.

Rabbi Woolstone reminisced about his teenage years, when he first got involved with Jewish observance through a Chabad Rabbi in Sydney. At one point, in response to a communication, the Rebbe remarked to him (I paraphrase in translation), “When a young man walks through Bondi Junction proudly displaying a Yarmulke and Tzitzis, the ministering angels on high envy the great Nachas this brings to Hashem.”

Bondi Junction is an area near the Yeshiva and the famous Bondi Beach. At that time it had a major train station and shopping area through which thousands of people passed every day. It has since developed into an entire neighborhood. Wearing visibly Jewish gear in Bondi Junction was a major statement about ones pride in his Jewish identity.

Baruch Hashem we have people in New Orleans proudly displaying their Jewish identity, thereby keeping the angels busy with their envy of the Nachas this brings to Hashem. We have come a long way since my days growing up in New Orleans. I remember walking through the halls of the JCC at the age of 10 and a kid stopping me to ask if that is how a Jew looks. I was wondering if he noticed the J in JCC on the outside of the building… We have come a long way indeed.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, I wish each of you, that Hashem inscribe and seal you for a sweet, healthy, prosperous and meaningful year of 5779.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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