By Howard Meyerowitz
When his two daughters were little girls, Howard Meyerowitz liked to delight them with imaginative tales he wrote to help them welcome the Sabbath Queen. Today, Howard carries on the family tradition by writing similar weekly stories for his two grandchildren. We are pleased to share one of Howard’s Shabbos tales with our readers.
David Ben Joshua had been the shamas [the sexton in a synagogue] of the tiny brick shul in the country for as long as anyone could remember. One day, he just wandered into town. No one knew where he came from, but the shul needed a shamas and David Ben Joshua applied for and got the job. All he asked for was room and board plus a little extra spending money. The townsfolk readily agreed and set him up in a small one bedroom apartment in Fruma’s Boarding House, where he received three meals a day. He was often invited to people’s homes for Shabbos dinner, but he preferred to eat at home alone.
Each Shabbos morning, David Ben Joshua walked the short distance to the tiny shul and made sure everything was ready for the day’s services. He loved his job and kept the tiny synagogue spic and span. He was held in the highest regard by the small Jewish community.
One Shabbos morning before services, as David stepped onto the shul’s bima, he heard a chirping sound. Carefully looking around, he finally spotted a cricket in a corner by the back wall.
“I can’t have a cricket in my shul!” he angrily said as he bent down to grab the small insect. But, just as he reached out, the melody the cricket was chirping caught his attention. It was one of the melodies chanted during the Shacharit [morning] service. Caught off guard, David Ben Joshua sat down in a pew and listened intently as the sweet melody echoed off the walls of the tiny building.
As the rabbi, cantor and congregants began entering the synagogue, they too were entranced by the cricket’s chirping, and from that day on the cricket became part of the Shabbos morning service accompanying the congregants as they davened. Soon, villagers who had not been regular shul goers began coming to services. Most importantly, the cricket’s chirping brought a smile to the children’s faces.
Howard Meyerowitz is a Ledger staff member and a member of Beth El Temple in West Hartford. He lives in Bloomfield with his wife, Susan.