As I stand here by the window, I think back to my emotions before my flight to LA, where I just spent the last few days. I spent Purim there, in a wholly foreign city, but before the trip I didn’t feel anxious at all. For I was staying by a family that does chessed like they need it to breathe. I had never felt so comfortable by someone else’s house as I felt the previous year in their home.
I was in LA collecting money for my yeshivah, and although it may look and sound like fun (so much so that it might be looked down upon by some of the readers as a little too out of hand), I don’t drink, so for me collecting for a 24-hour period almost non-stop is hard work. I have to bring a smile and a laugh to every house I stop by. I have to say witty lines. I have to be a representative of my yeshivah, and, for some people, the yeshivah community.
I have to make the master of the house feel important for having money, and then I have to ask him to part with his money. And then I have to be gracious for every check I get, no matter the amount, and then contend with a bunch of nervous guys who are a little tipsy and came here with dreams of being crowned the best fundraiser/group of all time. I have to dance in front of a hundred people while I’m completely in control of my senses. (It’s actually a great experience; they think you’re drunk, but you can feel every eye boring down your back.)
But I do it for one reason. My Rosh Yeshivah and Rebbeim need the money to keep the yeshivah functioning. I know how my Rosh Yeshivah spends every breathing moment trying to help another person. I literally cannot fully describe the level of his complete self-negation, his complete lack of self. It is just not possible from a natural sense to be that devoted to others. The only explanation can be that if a man attaches himself to G-d, to the Torah, his animalistic individual sense falls into the background and his neshamah takes control.
I’m not just collecting for a man I like. I’m not collecting for a man at all. I’m collecting for an eved Elokim, a servant of G-d. I’m not collecting for an institution that I appreciate. I’m collecting for a factory of kedushah, a mini Beis Hamikdash.
So if you see me next Purim, maybe you’ll appreciate a little more what I’m doing. Maybe you’ll think how hard it must be to try to smile up a whole town. Maybe you’ll even sympathize with my holy cause a bit more.