Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Meaning of Tallis

A few years ago, a law school classmate of mine: an absolutely delightful lady named  Hedy Feder Glaser, invited me down to Miami to attend her son’s bar mitzvah.  I went, and I’m glad I did.  It was a wonderful experience.  Great people, beautiful synagogue — I also learned the meaning of Tallis and I will never forget that word for as long as I shall live.  I do not spend a whole lot of time in synagogues, but I do know the drill.  Before entering the sanctuary, place a prayer shawl over your neck and put on a Yarmulke. After the service, which was excellent: it lasted over 2 hours and nobody was leaving (I kid Hedy that her Rabbi is to religious speakers as Sandy Koufax is to baseball pitchers), I shook hands with the Rabbi.  Then, I wasted absolutely no time getting to the men’s room, dropping off my prayer shawl in the prescribed box outside the sanctuary.  When I opened the men’s room door I saw a sign that read:  “Please remove Tallis before using the men’s room.”  At that point, I thought to myself, “What in the Billy blue blazes is a Tallis anyway?” I don’t want to commit some goisha gaff in Hedy’s beautiful synagogue. Seriously, I would just about rather die.  I saw that two gentlemen made it to the urinals ahead of me.  Normally, I do not engage in conversations with men standing at urinals.  However, in this case, I thought it appropriate to call out, “Excuse me gentlemen, but what is a Tallis?” I can’t tell you how totally relieved I was when I heard the reply: “the Tallis is the prayer shawl,” (the prayer shawl which I had already removed and placed in the appropriate receptacle provided).  Oh, thank goodness!  I will not have committed the gaff of the decade. Hedy’s friends will not tease her about her uncouth gentile friend from Ohio, and I will not die of uremic poisoning like Tycho Brahe.  I was so relieved and, about a minute later, I was even more relieved. 

P.S. Hedy, please tell your Rabbi that I think he’s the Sandy Koufax of Rabbis.

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