The Tapestry

tapestry

by Moishe Kormornick (www.ShortVort.com)

Rabbi Shochet and his wife had moved from Florida to become to newest Rabbi of an old Shul in the suburbs of Brooklyn that had closed down may years before. Knowing that they had a huge task ahead of them, they approached the dilapidated building with happy hearts, eager to restore the Shul to its former glory, and more importantly to them – its congregation. The first task that they were required to do was fix the broken building and make it into a respectable place to pray. The Shul needed much work, but they had set themselves a goal to be finished in time for Purim and they seemed to be on schedule; until a terrible snow storm ravaged the entire city and did much damage to the older buildings, including the old Shul. Stuck inside their house for two days, the Rabbi and his wife desperately prayed that their Shul was not harmed in the storm, but when they finally were able to get there, they saw that their prayers had not been answered. Rabbi Shochet’s heart sank when he stood by the Aron Hakodesh, looking up at the leaking roof. His eyes followed the trail of the drops of water to a massive hole about 10 feet wide next to the Aron Hakodesh. There was no way that this would be fixed before Purim, which was now only a day away. Undaunted, Rabbi Shochet and his wife once again prayed that Hashem would help them. Rabbi Shochet stood in front of the Aron Hakodesh and pleaded with Hashem “Master of the World, you know that we are only here for Your sake. We uprooted ourselves and our family to help rebuild a community. We are here to rebuild Your people. Please help us

so that we can bring Your presence into this small town.”

 With nothing more to be done, they picked up the bits of plaster from the ceiling, dried the puddles of water and headed home, thinking how to cancel their opening event. The two were devastated, not as much for the shul, but for the fact that so many Jews would miss out on hearing the Megilla on Purim night. Rebbetzen Shochet comforted her husband “You never know” she said “Purim is full of surprises. Hashem has brought us here to do good. We can only do our best efforts and the rest is up to Him. We have done all that we can, let’s go home and see what happens.” With a more upbeat tone, the Rabbi and his wife got into the car and headed home. As they approached the intersection, something caught Rabbi Shochet's attention and he slammed on the brakes. He saw a shop on the corner selling second hand linens, rugs and carpets; but in front of the shop, hanging proudly in the air, was an old, large tapestry. Its striking blue background brought out the magnificent gold Magen David in the middle of the piece. The Rabbi and his wife jumped out of the car and approached the shop, they studied the tapestry intently and decided that it would fit perfectly, just about covering the large hole that was threatening to stop their official opening. The Rabbi walked up to the shop owner and said to the owner, “I want that tapestry”, “But it’s not for sale” exclaimed the shop owner “I am just unpacking my shop. I have just sold it will all the stock. This is the only piece that I belong. I am moving south tomorrow, in fact I should have been closed an hour ago. i am sorry, the new owner will be here tomorrow, you should come back and choose something else then. I’m sorry” Thinking that the shop-owner was merely trying to get a high price for the tapestry, the Rabbi turned to his wife and said “Forget the cost, this is for a mitzvah, we won’t lose out!” and he announced that he was willing to pay whatever the man wanted. “I’m sorry, I can't possible sell this. I’ve had it for nearly 40 years. It's really not for sale. And I am leaving tomorrow, so I really must be going.” Dejected, the Rabbi turned and left the shop “Wait” called out the shop-owner “Why do you even want this so much?” The Rabbi explained what had happened and who he was, and that the Shul would not be able to open unless the hole was covered. Touched by the Rabbi’s story, the man said “Here. Please take this as a gift. I, myself am Jewish, although I have not set foot in a Shul for many years, not since before the war. Please take it for free. I am an old man, with no children. Here, take this, I can't tell you what it means to me. What am I going to do with it anyway, I was always good to the folks around here, giving away linens to the poor, I may as well do one last good deed in this town ” Without time to ask any more questions about the tapestry, the Rabbi invited the man to Shul for the grand-opening, so that he could at least see his beautiful tapestry in the Shul before he left town. The old man, somewhat unconvincingly said that he would try left, and the Rabbi left the shop, carrying their new center-piece under his arm. The Rabbi turned around the car and hurried back to the Shul.

They were delighted to see that the tapestry fit perfectly, and they just stood there for a few minutes envisaging a packed Shul, everyone fulfilling the mitzvah of hearing the megilla. They returned to their car, delighted at their fortune. It had now begun to rain very heavily. And as they were getting into their car, the Rebbetzen saw an old lady trying to shelter under a tree as she waited for a bus. Fearing that the weather would worsen, the Rebbetzen went over to the lady, quickly introduced herself and beckoned for the lady to get into the car. “We are the new Rabbi and Rebbetzen” she exclaimed “we are orthodox Jews, rebuilding a shul in your neighbourhood” It turns out that the old lady had heard about orthodox Jews, in fact, this old lady was Jewish herself. After a ten minute car journey that took the old lady right to her door, a friendship had been born and she promised to be at the megilla reading the following night.

Just as the Rabbi had imagined, the Shul was packed. People had come to see the new Shul, hear the new Rabbi and experience a traditional orthodox service, in a non-traditional place. Afterwards, everyone came to meet the new Rabbi and wish him well. Even the women waited outside to greet the young Rabbi and introduce themselves. Everyone approached the Rabbi in turn, explaining who they were and what they did. Everyone, except for the little old lady that they had taken home the night before. She was sitting down, at the front of the women’s section staring at the tapestry hanging on the wall. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” the Rebbetzen said and she approached her new friend and gently laid a hand on her shoulder. There was no response from the old lady, she was just staring at the tapestry. “Is everything okay?” asked the Rebbetzen. Without taking her eyes off the tapestry, the old lady said “Please could you look at the bottom left corner and tell me if you see the initials MSC?” Surprised at the request, she beckoned her husband to check the corner as the lady had requested. Amazed, he announced that there were in fact the letters MSC sewn into the tapestry.

All eyes were on the woman as she explained everything “My husband and I, having just married, were living in Europe where we became very well respected by the Jews and the gentiles alike. In fact, we had a special relationship with the mayor of the town and my husband often did business with him. When the Nazis came into our town, the mayor ran to tell us to flee. Even though rumours had spread that the Nazis were coming, we never thought that they would actually come to our small town, and besides, no one had a bad word to say about us, even the mayor did business with us. But we were not going to stay around to find out what was in store for us. We gathered a few of our belongings, wrapped up all of the jewellery and gold that we had in the tapestry that you see before you and ran away. I carried the documents and some provisions we made for the journey and my husband carried the ‘bag’ with all of our belongings. At some point whilst we were trying to board a train, my husband was pulled aside by Polish policemen. Explaining who he was, and giving each policeman a coin or two, he managed to board the train and we sat back and watched the town where we had both grown up disappear from our lives. We thought that we were safe, but all of a sudden, there was great commotion as the train came to a slow halt. We peared out of the window and saw a group of Nazi officers ordering everybody off the train. Not having any ‘pull’ with German officers, we decided to stay in the train and hide in one of the carriages. My husband hid behind the door, covered in passengers’ coats and I hid under one of the seats. The Nazis came onto the train, kicking open every door and searching for stragglers. It turned out that there were quite a few as we heard people being dragged off the train, kicking and screaming – we even heard gunshots from outside which pierced our ears. And then it happened, our door was kicked open and the Nazi beast came into our carriage. Looking around, he saw my husband’s shoe peering from his hiding place. He ordered my husband out of the carriage, and not wanting them to find me, he walked out gracefully. I was left there all alone. I sat in shock, not knowing what to do. I didn’t move, I didn’t do anything. After some time, the train started moving and I was travelling alone. Somehow, without money or travel documents, I made it out of Poland and managed eventually to settle in America. I never heard from my husband and feared the worst. I never thought I would ever see that tapestry again. Where on earth did you find it?”

Awestruck by the woman’s story, the Rabbi and Rebbetzen stood there in shock. Rabbi Shochet looked around, where was the man who sold him the tapestry, had he been there? He didn’t remember seeing him after the service. Had he left the city yet? Would they be able to track him down? Noone was in Shul, everyone had already left. But at the back of the shul, the Rabbi saw a shadow. It was the old shop-owner. He paced toward the old man who had sold him the tapestry which he was staring at, in a daze, reminiscing his past life. He saw the Rabbi bouncing towards him, and without taking an eye of the tapestry, announced in a sad tone “I’m glad I gave you my tapestry. It looks beautiful here. My wife would have been very proud” The Rabbi didn’t even hear what the man had said, he just took him by his hand, and marched him towards the tapestry and introduced him to his wife who he had not seen in nearly forty years.

by Moishe Kormornick , www.shortvort.com

* Based on a vort submitted by YGH "An Incredible, True Story"

*For the sake of emes I want to add that it has been brought to my attention that the facts of this story may not be accurate and perhaps this story did not take place at all. I have nevertheless kept the story on the website just in case... but with that proviso." May we all be blessed with besoros tovos

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