By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
Ask any New York Yankees fan. The sound of Neil Diamond’s hit song “Sweet Caroline” is not music to their ears. That song, traditionally played at Fenway Park in Boston, is the rallying cry for the hometown Red Sox. To suggest that said song would ever be played in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx would be treason. But on Tuesday night, April 16, one night after the Marathon Massacre, “Sweet Caroline” indeed echoed through the rafters in the Bronx.
The flag in New York City is that of Boston today, and the flags ringing Yankee Stadium are also in acknowledgment to our brothers in Boston. For when an American is attacked, the geography, demographics, and fan loyalty that traditionally divide us dissipate quicker than the smoky residue of a bomb. We pray that it lasts at least as long as the injuries sustained by some of the more grievously injured will.
Such is human nature in a civilized society. Pain is a rallying cry.
A few weeks back, the Nebraska football team held their annual spring scrimmage. A nine-year-old was undergoing intense medical treatment which was sapping his strength and left him with an uncertain future. Unbeknownst to him in advance, the team invited him onto the field, outfitted him in full uniform, called his number from the line of scrimmage, and the world, thanks to YouTube, watched him run the field into the end zone, scoring a touchdown he and his family will remember forever.
Such is human nature in a civilized society. Triumph and the fulfillment of a dream, even a scripted dream, is a rallying cry.
And sometimes people just do good, thinking of the other guy, just because it is nice to be good as much as it is good to be nice.
I woke up as I do every Shabbos and yom tov morning at around 7:00, say some morning blessings, and grab a cup of coffee. Three sips into my java, I hear a knock at my door. Who wants me at 7:45 on a Shabbos chol hamoed morning? To my delight, it was my new neighbor Renee in search of hot water for coffee for her husband, my dear friend Eli. Their urn had become unplugged and Eli Singer was in danger of having to sit through three hours of shul without his morning Joe. I was happy to provide the water. (I have seen Eli without his coffee.)
Fast-forward two hours. As is customary in some shuls on yom tov, the honors are sold to the highest bidder. Enter a good friend of mine, Dr. Yossi Jarret. He normally davens at a different shul but that day he prayed with us as he and his family were to be our lunch guests. Coincidentally, he finds a seat right in front of Eli Singer. The president of our shul ascends the bima and proceeds to sell the aliyos. Singer and Jarret are bidding against each other for the third aliyah, which is considered to be an especially honorable one. Our president points towards the rear of the shul in the direction of Singer and Jarret and yells “Sold!” Both Jarret and Singer believe they were the purchaser of the coveted third aliyah. There is no end to where a man will travel for his honor.
Immediately before the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark, Jarret approaches president Malik and tells him that the honor he purchased, the third aliyah, was not for him, but for David Seidemann.
“That’s a problem,” retorts Malik, “because you didn’t buy it, Singer did. If you want to give it to Seidemann, you better take it up with Singer.”
Jarret returns to his seat and turns around to engage Singer. “Eli, Malik says you bought shlishi, and I thought I bought it. I tell you the truth,” says Jarret, “if I was buying it for myself I wouldn’t make an issue of it, I would just let you have the honor,” Jarret continues.
“You see, Eli, there is a guy in the shul here who has been helping me raise money for a family that was having financial problems, amongst other issues. Additionally he has done some professional work for them, won’t take a fee, and in general is helping me help the family through some very difficult times. I was buying the aliyah for him.” All along Jarret doesn’t tell Singer that he, Jarret, was purchasing it for me.
Now Singer is no pushover, and Jarret does not know what to expect.
Singer responds to Jarret as follows, “Yossi, if I bought it for myself, I would for sure let you have it for your guy, but I bought it to honor someone else as well. And when I bought it, I specifically had in mind to give it to that person, and maybe since in the shul’s eyes I was the true purchaser, maybe I have to give it to him.”
Jarret retorts. “What did your guy do? My guy is helping me help a whole family.”
Singer responds, “Well maybe nothing as great as your guy did. My guy just gave me a cup of hot water this morning so I could make myself a cup of coffee. Sounds like your guy deserves it more. Go ahead, it’s yours.”
The Torah reader completed the reading of the second aliyah, and when I was called up to recite the blessings for the third aliyah, both Singer and Jarret looked at each other with amazement. Neither had known that they both sought to honor me with the third aliyah.
Such is human nature in a civilized society. Friendship is a rallying cry. v
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.