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Thought for the Day: My Beautiful Esrog Case

I have a rebbi and rebbitzin in shalom bayis.  They've been married for more decades than the years my oldest grandchild has been in this world.  I walk my rebbi home on Shabbos and he more often than not he tells me how good HaShem has been to him by giving him the best wife in the world.  When we walk in the door, she looks at him like she still can't believe she got the best bachur.  On their Heinz anniversary, I commented to the rebbitzin, "Wow!  57 years and not one fight?"  She answered with a big smile, "That's right. Not one fight!"

I never had an esrog case till last year.  Since our wedding didn't happen according to the usual orthodox sequence of things, we didn't really know about which presents the chasson and kallah are supposed to give each other and at what juncture; and neither of our parents were providing any assistence, for that matter.  It didn't really bother me, but it certainly was on my "nice to have list".  Since I am not close to through my "need to have list", I didn't expect to see one any time soon.  Last year, though, my wife presented me with a beautiful esrog case just before yontif.  "But things are tight... we decided not to get each other presents this year, right?", I said (a little worriedly).  "Yes," she told me, "but I saved up tip money and I asked a friend who was going to Israel to get it for me, and it didn't cost all that much... Do you like it?"  It was stunning, and I told her so; polished wood with silver plate ornamentation -- really stunning.  There was an extra dimension of simcha last year when I bought my esrog, knowing that it was going to spend the week in a much nicer setting than that cardboard box.

My expectations were entirely justified.  So cool to look over my shtender and see that stunning esrog case.  The first two days of Yom Tov anyway.  Then Shabbos; no esrog case, of course.  Then Sunday came.  I was leaving for beis medrash juggling lulav, sefer, coffee cup, car keys, and esrog box while trying to lock the door.  I don't juggle well, but I still managed to drop only one thing.  The esrog box.  Ever see those movies where all of the sudden everything is moving in slow motion?  That's not what this looked like.  I watched my new esrog case hurling at full speed to the concrete porch.  It did exactly what you think; box hit, lid went flying one direction, esrog another.  The esrog was fine.  The esrog case was, mercifully, in only two big pieces; lid and container.  Besides, of course, all the dings and gouges that marred the finish.  Concrete is not friendly to polished wood surfaces.

Davening was a blur that morning.  Driving home a bigger blur.  I had no excuses.  I hadn't even made it through one Sukkos with my new esrog box, received as a surprise gift from my wife who as used her own, off budget money to get me something she thought I deserved.  And I had broken it by not being careful.  This was almost worse that malicious, it seemed to declare, "You are just not important to me."  I was prepared for the worst as I entered the house.

I showed her the esrog box.  She said,"Don't worry about it; accidents happen."  With full sincerity.  In fact, her main concern was for how I felt having a broken esrog box.  There was not the slightest sensation that we were dealing with anything other than a broken esrog box.

Every relationship comes with disagreements.  All the more so a marriage.  Every marriage comes with fights.  There are fights that hurt the participants and fights that break down barriers.  When I fixed the esrog box, I asked my wife if we could leave the dings and gouges as testament to the fights that broke all those barriers to shalom bayis.  She agreed.

You should come by to see my esrog box; it's beautiful beyond description.


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