Monday, August 26, 2013

Chapter Seventeen of Sondra's Search: Finding a lost Torah scroll can be as difficult as finding yourself.

      "Why did G-d punish my cousin?" Sondra asked Mr. Marcus as they walked the same path she and Jane had walked five days earlier.

     "Sondra, I can't begin to pretend that I understand HaShem's ways," Mr. Marcus spoke slowly. "I can't even say for sure that your cousin was punished. Maybe it was a reward."

     "What do you mean?" Waiting for an explanation, Sondra surveyed the campus looking for an empty bench. The weather was warmer and there were a number of students outside. Several stared at the older man with the black hat and beard, but no one said anything. Sondra spotted an empty bench near the entrance of the library.

    "Back in the beginning of the Torah," Mr. Marcus sat down and turned to Sondra, "we learn that everyone lived for hundreds of years, right?"

     Sondra nodded.

     "One man, Hanoch, lived until only sixty-five years old. The Sages say that the reason he died so early was because, although he was a good man, he had the kind of nature that would cause him to go after the wrong crowd. At the age of sixty-five, he still had committed any real sins and he would still be able to get his full share in olam haba…"

     "What's that?"

     "The World to Come, The afterlife."

     "So we believe there is life after death?"
     "Most definitely."

     "How do we know for sure?"

     Mr. Marcus smiled kindly. "Let me tell you a parable. There are two twins in the womb. One thinks that there is more to the world than just swimming in prenatal fluid and the other is certain that there is nothing more to life. When the first brother is born, the second brother knows that he has lost his twin forever. In the midst of his mourning, however, he is plunged into the world and he sees how mistaken he really was. So it is for life after death."

      Mr. Marcus watched the chattering students pass by as he let Sondra think over his allegory.

     "Howie was killed in a car wreck on Shabbos with the non-Jewish girl he was dating. Do you think he's burning in Hell now?"

     "No, Sondra, no," Mr. Marcus shook his head. "Every Jew is guaranteed a share in olam haba. What he does with his life affects how big his share will be."

     "You mean how many mitzvahs he does?"


     "Howie did not do very many mitzvahs," Sondra shook her head sadly.

     "I don't know about that," Mr. Marcus objected. "I saw him come write letters for Soviet Jews when he was in Kansas City. You told me how he used to help your grandmother at least once a week. He told me that he went to the monthly Shabbos services here. We have no way of knowing how HaShem keeps score of the mitzvahs we do. Your cousin did not keep Shabbos, that's true, but he had never seen the beauty of Shabbos. He cannot be held accountable for not doing what he did not know how to do."

     "My friend told me that he's in hell because he did not believe in Jesus."

    "That's ridiculous!" Mr. Marcus shook his hands impatiently. "That's not even worth wasting time discussing it."

    "Okay," Sondra nodded. "So you're saying that every Jew gets to go to - what did you call it?"

     "Olam haba."

     "Olam haba. But why did that man from the beginning die so early?"

     "Because if he was going to follow the bad crowd, then he would start doing sins, aveirot, that he knew he shouldn't do. That would make his portion in olam haba smaller and that would be a shame."


     As Sondra was reasoning through what Mr. Marcus had just told her, one of the coeds came by.

     "Hello, Sondra," she broke into Sondra's thoughts. "I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin. I was away for the weekend and did not make it to the funeral."
    "Oh, thank you." Sondra hesitated for just a moment. "My aunt and uncle are sitting shiva if you want to stop by."

    "Maybe I will," the coed said. "I'll tell some of the others. Thank you for telling me. Is this one of your relatives?"

    "Excuse me. This is a friend, Mr. Marcus from Kansas City. This is Wendy Rosen."

    "Pleased to meet you," the girl held out her hand.

    "Nice to meet you, too," Mr. Marcus smiled charmingly. "I don't shake hands with women, though, so forgive me for not shaking yours."

    "Okay," Wendy shrugged. Her face was puzzled, but not insulted. "How long are you in for?"
    "Just the day. I thought Sondra might need someone to talk to."

    "That's so nice!" the girl exclaimed. "I need to do some studying, so I'll see you later."

    Sondra watched her walk up the steps and enter the library. Then she turned to Mr. Marcus.

     "So Howie didn't lose his part in the World to Come for not keeping Shabbos because he did not know anything about keeping Shabbos. Right?"

     Mr. Marcus nodded.

    "So, if I know about Shabbos and don't keep it I will lose part of what I'm supposed to get, right?"


     "Then I should start keeping Shabbos here in Lincoln."

     "If you're able," Mr. Marcus answered gently.

     "I guess I'm going to have to try." Sondra spoke with determination.

     "Any time you need help or have questions you can call me. You can even call collect."

     "Thank you," Sondra whispered and wiped away the tears that were falling down her face.


dimz said...

Thanks for providing such a great article, it was excellent and very informative.
as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
thank you :)

Ester said...

I am glad you liked it. However, it is not an article, rather a chapter in a novel. The earlier chapters have already been posted, once a month. If you want to read them go to blog archive. Thank you for commenting, Ester