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The Destiny of a Dream - A Story of ELUL
There’s a difference between actually being a certain something and looking like you are. For example; I can wear a black outfit and a little higher heeled shoe and give the appearance of being thinner, but I’m really not. We can appear to be a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that we are.
At this time of year when the focus isn’t on our outer appearance, but on our inner self; we’re forced to have to look at who we really are and question if we’re the person that we should be, or are we just skipping by in appearance only. The harder question is what God thinks when He looks at us; He is ultimately the One Who really matters.
It was the day before ELUL was to begin. Reuben Meltkhin was preparing to take a nice vacation like he does at this time every year. He was in a rush to close up shop and get home so that he could prepare to leave. As he was locking the security gate on the front door of the shop, the beggar who stands outside of Reuben’s shop every day asked him if he could spare some change, the same question that he asks every time Reuben leaves for the day. Reuben looked at the beggar and asked, “Sir, why do you stand outside of my shop all day, each day that I’m opened?” The beggar replied, “Because you seem like a very kind man, and I want to help you stay in compliance with keeping the mitzvah of giving to the needy.”
Reuben asked the beggar, “Who are you and why would you concern yourself about me?” The beggar replied, “No, the question is who you are?” Reuben retorted, “I’m the owner of this shop, which you stand in front of begging every day. That’s who I am!” The beggar, pointing to Reuben’s chest (Heart) said; “No, who are you really?”
Reuben sat down on the slatted bench that he has chained to a post in front of his shop, and he motioned for the beggar to sit down as well. He went on to tell him, “You said that I look like a kind man; I can honestly say that I am not as I appear. My mother passed away in 1995, and I blamed my father for not doing enough to help her get better. Then he spent half of her Life Insurance on God knows what, while I had to struggle to put my self through college and then Law School. I walked away from my father that same year and I never looked back. A kind man would not have abandoned his father in such a way, especially in his time of grief.
As for who I am, I don’t know who I am anymore. I knew for years that I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to school, got my degree in law, passed the Bar and was ready to begin living my life; my dream. Then when my father passed away eight years ago, I inherited this shop and I’ve been living my father’s dream ever since. So you tell me Sir, who am I really?”
The beggar asked Reuben, “Why didn’t you just sell the shop and continue on with your dream of being a lawyer?” Reuben answered, “I couldn’t just sell something that was so much a part of my father’s life. I would have diminished everything that he had worked so hard for.” The beggar told Reuben, “A person’s dream doesn’t necessarily mean that it is their destiny in life. Maybe your father’s dream was actually your destiny. Your father passed away at the time when you were getting ready to begin your career in law. Maybe your dream of being a lawyer wasn’t your destiny at all, but it was a part of the path along the way to your true destiny.”
Reuben replied, “You sound like my father.” The beggar smiled and said, “I take that as a compliment, because I knew what kind of man your father was.” Reuben looked at the beggar and asked, “You knew my Father?” The beggar replied, “Yes, very well. My name is Samuel Getz; I’m the man who called you when your father passed away.” Reuben knew that he was not in the presence of a beggar; this was his father’s dear friend, who took care of him in his final years of life. Reuben asked, “Mr. Getz, why didn’t you tell me who you are? You’ve been standing outside of this shop with your little donation box as if you were a beggar, why didn’t you want me to know who you really are?”
Samuel went on to tell Reuben, “This is not about who I am, but who you are. Anyone can be kind to someone they know, but you have been kind to a stranger. You give of your money every day that I’m here. You put this bench in so that I could sit and rest my feet. You have given me water and food, and when it was cold you gave me a heavier coat to wear, and told me that I was welcome to come inside of the shop. At this time of ELUL, what do you think God sees when He looks at you? I’m sure He sees a man who is truly kind and giving; a man who put his own dream aside in order to carry on his father’s hard work.
At this time every year you’ve taken a vacation, so that you can run away from having to face the man that you feel your circumstances have caused you to become, not knowing that this is the man you were destined to be all along. Reuben, you don’t want to admit that you’re right where you’re supposed to be, and that what your father began, was for you to complete.”
Reuben said in a somewhat broken voice, “Samuel, when I have gone on vacation every year at ELUL, I have gone to places where I could be alone with my thoughts, and reflect on my life. I have to live with abandoning my father the way that I did. I didn’t see him the last ten years of his life. When you called to tell me that my dad had passed away, I didn’t even know that he had been sick. I have to live each and every day thinking about what I did to my father, but it’s far worse at this time of year, and that’s why I go away. I think when God looks at me He sees a very selfish son, I can appear to be a kind man to you and the world around me, but God sees me for what I really am.”
Samuel asked Reuben if he would consider spending his vacation, or at least part of it, at the shelter that he and his wife, Esther run, the very place where Reuben’s father lived out the last years of his life. Samuel would be able to tell Reuben a lot about his father, and that in turn would help Reuben to understand himself better. He could also see the people that he’s helped feed for the passed eight years, with the money that Samuel collected in front of his shop.
Samuel went home with Reuben so that he could gather his things. They arrived at the shelter and it wasn’t at all what Reuben thought it was going to be like; it was a lovely home. When they walked up to the front porch there was a metal plaque above the front door that read, “This Home was donated by Solomon and Reuben Meltkhin, in loving memory of wife and mother Anna Meltkhin - July 1995.” Reuben looked at that plaque and with tears streaming down his face said, ‘Now I know what dad did with part of the insurance money after mom died. I’ve always thought that he just squandered it, I had no idea.” Samuel told Reuben that he thought that his father would be very pleased that he was there. Reuben replied with a smile, “As well, I am pleased to know that my father was here.”
The days during ELUL were life changing for Reuben. He and Samuel spent countless hours in prayer and in conversation about things that have been weighing heavy on Reuben’s heart for many years. During Reuben’s stay there with Samuel and Esther, the property next door went up for sale and Reuben made the decision to buy it, so that he could live closer to his friends, and to the home where his father found comfort in his final days. Reuben had no idea of the part that he would come to play in the shelter that was founded in the memory of his dear mother. He became legal counsel for the shelter and the community of people who lived there. Most of the time it was pro-bono, but Reuben felt good knowing that his dream was finally being put to good use. Samuel helped Reuben run the jewelry store, but more than that he helped Reuben come to a better understanding of himself.
It was a time of ELUL like none other in Reuben’s life. It was the beginning of the destinies of two men, being brought together by one man’s dream.
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