Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Two Wise Men Came A-Calling

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This post can also be titled Davka.

Last night, I 'd gone into our living room to draw open the curtains and set up a minimum of four chanukiyot to light (3 for each of the children; 1 for the adults). Although Chanukah had started on Sunday night, we had not yet been home to light our own candles, so everything was to be set up for the first time.

Just as I drew open the curtains, I saw two black-hatted men walk up our driveway to the front door. "Shlichim" I thought, "coming for donations!"

Now, I live in a Jewish neighborhood, but not a particular frum neighborhood, so we've only been "canvassed"for donations once so far in our two years plus of living here. We have friends who live closer to "the big shul" who are answering the door to donation seekers several times a month.

My husband was in the kitchen preparing latkes and dressed very casually, and I was left to open the door upon the knock. Davka, of all days, here I was wearing pants! Generally I wear skirts, but as I'd been home yesterday, I'd opted for pants. So I was self-conscious from the minute the knock came.

I opened the door to "Happy Chanukah" and replied "Chag Sameach". These 2 young teenage emissaries of Lubavitch were on the doorstep, asking if we'd already lit the candles, or if I needed any help in doing so. I told him that I was just about to set up several menorahs, one for each of my children.

My daughter shyly stood nearby, also dressed in her jeans yesterday while at home. One of the Lubavitchers pulled out a handful of dreidels from his pocket and offered my daughter one. Along came my youngest son--and he was davka dressed for the occasion, his tzitizit hanging out, his kippah on his head. The Lubavitchers must've wondered what kind of household this was--mother and daughter in jeans, son in kippah and tzitzit. Okay, so we're Modern.

I joked with the teens and asked if they wanted to light with us, and one asked if I needed help lighting. I quickly said no, that my husband was nearby and would soon be lighting with us. Had hubby made an appearance, I wonder what the teens would've thought: man in shorts and tank top -- very casual -- a baseball hat on his head, spatula for frying latkes in his hand.

We weren't actually ready to light just then, but in hindsight it might have been very nice had the Lubavitch teens stayed to light with us, and witness that although we might not have looked the part at that moment, we knew what we were doing, and we were doing it right... It would have been nice to open our "ohel" (tent) to Lubavitchers for a change, an act of role reversal.

I'm sort of hoping that these 2 young men might alight upon our front doorstep once more before the chag is over. They go around helping others perform the mitzvah of candle lighting; maybe next time we can fulfill the mitzvah of "hachnasat orchim" (welcoming of guests) ...and offer them some latkes and a mean game of dreidel!