Shabbat at Home – Parshat Vayikra

Aviva and I began dating in 2003. As Jewish college students who served on the Rutgers Hillel Student Board, one of our talents was finding benefactors for our international travel. There seemed to be no shortage of individuals and organizations who wanted to send dedicated young Jews abroad, mainly to Israel. After dating for just four months, we found ourselves wandering the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem.

We wandered into a store called Hadaya. I am sure many of you are now familiar with the brand. Baruch Hadaya was one of Jerusalem’s most talented silversmiths. Visitors to his tiny shop could drop thousands of dollars on truly magnificent candlesticks and jewelry. However, when the Second Intifada hit, Israel experienced unprecedented losses to the travel and hospitality industries. Fewer visitors meant fewer big sales.

Hadaya was struggling. One day, a group of seminary girls entered his shop. They gawked at the gorgeous, albeit unaffordable, treasures. Finally, one of the young women asked Baruch Hadaya if he made anything they could afford. I’m not sure if the idea popped into Hadaya’s head immediately or after they left. He recalled a tale of King Solomon that involved a simple ring of silver. After recreating the ring in his shop and selling it to these yeshiva students, word spread quickly. Baruch Hadaya credited these young women for saving his business.

As the years passed, these silver rings became necessary purchases for visitors to Israel, particularly for high school and college students. I chaperoned a teen trip to Israel in 2006 where Hadaya was so busy that he would send his sons to hotels to take orders from groups at the beginning of their trips and back to return the completed projects at the week’s end. When I was living in Israel in 2011, I spent a summer working as an advisor to the USY Pilgrimage program. I smiled as I walked around Jerusalem that summer and saw branded “Hadaya-mobiles” traveling the city streets between hotels. I designed a necklace charm that I wanted Hadaya to create for me as a memento from that period. I was so pleased to hear that they were so busy that my charm had to be sent to me after I had already returned to the United States.

Unfortunately, Baruch Hadaya passed away in 2017 after a cancer battle. Today, his children run the shop. Ninety-five percent of their business is creating these simple silver rings and charms.  I wear one of his rings and a necklace charm every single day. His children made one of my favorite pairs of cufflinks just a couple years ago.

Two wonderful things happened when Aviva and I found ourselves in Hadaya’s shop in the winter of 2003. First, Hadaya treated us to a beautiful retelling of the tale of King Solomon. Afterwards, while speaking to Aviva, he referred to me as, “the one you love”. We hadn’t used those words with each other yet, but he intuited something about our budding relationship. He also noticed that I seemed pensive. He inquired as to my mood and I told him that I loved the concept of his rings, but was afraid they were too feminine. At the time, I was a bit more svelte and closer to my high school wrestling days. He responded, “Look at you, nothing could look feminine on you!” This may have been the beginning of my appreciation for accessories. I’ve had that ring on my finger every day since.

Now that I’ve rambled on, let me tell you why I want to share the tale of King Solomon this erev Shabbat. This unprecedented time has yielded a fair amount of bedtime anxiety in our household. In an effort to curb some of this, I shared the tale of King Solomon with my family. The story’s mantra seems to have been helpful for us. Perhaps it will be for you as well:

The great King Solomon had many servants, but there was one who was greater than the rest. No matter the task, this servant found a way to complete it beautifully and with haste. Over time, King Solomon’s other servants grew jealous. To try to avoid trouble, the King sought to teach his favorite servant a lesson in humility. King Solomon called this servant before him and told him that, in some time, King Solomon would host a large banquet. At this large banquet, King Solomon wanted to be presented with a magical ring. This ring would make its wearer feel joy when they were sad, and feel sad when they were happy.

The servant got to work. He traveled far and wide to search for such a ring, but it was all for naught. It seemed that no one could help him. Time passed quickly. Finally, it was the night before the banquet and the servant wandered aimlessly through Jerusalem’s alleyways. He could not imagine what it would feel like to disappoint his King for the very first time. He found himself before a small jewelry shop, with an old man bent over his workbench, a single light shone upon him. The servant entered and asked, “Have you heard of such a ring that makes the wearer feel joy when they are sad, and feel sad when they are happy.” The old man took out a plain silver band and engraved it with the words, “Gam Zeh Ya’avor – This too shall pass.”

The servant presented King Solomon with the ring at the next day’s banquet. He remained in King Solomon’s favor for the rest of his days.

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. All of us are struggling with seemingly impossible tasks, uncharted territory, and bearing the weight of our world on our aching shoulders. As we enter this Shabbat, I bless us with patience and resilience. May we always remember, “Gam Zeh Ya’avor – This too shall pass.”

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