THE MYSTERY OF THE INVITATIONS
August 6, 2014
Boruch Merkur in #937, Tzivos Hashem

My bar mitzva is coming up. Many boys in my class put on t’fillin already and every week invitations are hung up on the class bulletin board. When my parents began preparing for my bar mitzva, I was excited to join the ‘g’dolim’ in the class. 

Lately I’ve been very busy. I have to review the maamer very well by heart, prepare something in Nigleh, know the laws of t’fillin, and all sorts of other things need to be done.

I was sitting in my living room reviewing the maamer when I heard a knock at the door. I looked up and saw my father coming in holding a medium sized package. When I opened the package, I shouted, “Mazal tov! The invitations arrived!”

I went outside to bring in the rest of the invitations and when I came back in my younger brothers were crowded around the invitations. Shloimy, the mischievous one, proclaimed, “You are invited to the bar mitzva celebration of our dear son, Sholom Dovber, on 15 Menachem Av …”

“Mendy,” I heard my father call my brother. “Can you buy envelopes?” I continued learning while thinking of the invitations. I imagined my grandfather excitedly holding an invitation, my friends crowding around the bulletin board in class … When Mendy returned with a bag from the store, I wanted to join them in preparing the envelopes and putting on stamps.

Then my father walked into the living room and took one invitation out of the pack. He looked at it for a few seconds and then said, “Oy! What a mistake! He forgot to write it.”

“What a pity,” I thought. “I was so looking forward to sending out the invitations and now there’s a mistake?” I took an invitation and read through the text. I looked at the date, then at my name, I checked the name of the hall and the address as well as the time, and everything looked fine. 

“I don’t understand,” I thought. “What mistake is there? Everything is written correctly as we arranged with the printer.” My younger brothers also were unable to find the mistake and we asked our father, “What’s wrong with the invitation?” 

My father smiled and said, “I won’t tell you. Let’s see if you can figure it out yourselves.”

My father left. He planned on taking the invitations back to the printer the next day so that the mistake could be corrected. We collected the invitations we had taken out and put them back in the package as we wracked our brains in an attempt to figure out what was wrong with the invitations.

The next day at school, I told Shmuli, my good friend, about the mystery. Shmuli already celebrated his bar mitzva a few months ago. “I have an idea,” he said as he flapped his hand quickly, something he does at times like these. “I have my invitation in my briefcase. You can compare it to your invitation and figure out what’s missing in yours.”

He took out his invitation and I read it carefully. Not a word escaped my eye, but I was unable to find anything. Every additional attempt to solve the mystery only made me more curious about what was missing in my invitation. I finally came up with an idea. I decided to go to Sholom the printer (I called him “the suspender man”) right after school and I hoped I would solve the mystery there.

I told Shmuli and we planned on going together. The printer doesn’t like it when young children (that’s what he calls them even though bar mitzva boys are definitely big) walk around his print shop among the machinery.

We once went to his print shop just to check it out and looked at the big machines and other fascinating things there. Sholom the printer noticed us and wagged his finger threateningly at us but we just stood there frozen in fear. He looked at us and began trembling in anger, as though we had broken one of his machines. His face turned red and then suddenly, one of his suspenders detached. It was so funny that the two of us burst out laughing and ran out. Since that funny episode, I’ve called him “the suspender man.”

Now you understand that we needed a lot of courage to go to Sholom’s print shop. But my curiosity overcame me and I convinced Shmuli that it would be okay. We left after school for the store and agreed that we would hide behind the big drying machine. This machine is situated in a corner of the print shop and there was no chance that Sholom would notice us.

We arrived at the store and hid. Sholom walked among the machinery and gave instructions to Micha, his worker. Micha is a very simple person who did not learn much, but he has pure faith. We listened silently to their conversation, hoping to overhear something in connection with my bar mitzva invitation.

Suddenly, we heard Micha asking, “Sholom, you tell me every morning that Moshiach will come today, right?”

Sholom apparently nodded because we did not hear him answer. Micha continued, “I don’t understand. If you really believe that Moshiach is coming today, why are you making all kinds of plans to expand your print shop?”

The question was interesting and we waited to hear what Sholom would say. Sholom cleared his throat and said, “Micha, you are so right. The Torah tells us to make plans in the event that, G-d forbid, Moshiach is delayed. But at the same time, I believe with all my heart, each day, that today Moshiach will come.”

“Ah, like with these invitations?” we heard Micha ask.

“Invitations?” Sholom did not understand.

“These bar mitzva invitations where the customer wanted a line added?”

Our ears perked up when we heard that last sentence and we listened quietly for Sholom’s answer.

“Exactly,” said Sholom. “I know that customer well. He printed invitations for the bar mitzva with details that are appropriate for galus, because that’s what the Torah tells us to do. But he believes with all his heart that Moshiach will come at any moment, and so he asked that we add a line, ‘Only if, G-d forbid, Moshiach is delayed.’”

Sholom finished the thought and Shmuli and I looked at one another. Now we knew what was missing on the invitations.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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