By SUZANNE SELENGUT
One year, on the anniversary of the death of Dan Benaya Seri's father, the grave site was miraculously decorated with the four species used to celebrate the Succot holiday. Receiving a call from his mother about the unusual occurrence, Seri asked her who might have gone to such extravagant lengths to honor his father's memory.
"Elijah the Prophet," his mother replied.
Not quite accepting that explanation of the events, Seri began to think through the past, remembering one particular Succot, when he was a boy and his father was still alive.
It was his father's custom to spend what little money the family could afford for extras on the purchase of a particularly beautiful set of four species, the green lulav (palm), the yellow etrog (citrus fruit) and the hadasim (myrtles) and aravot (willows). He would save up and then go to Mea She'arim to the Ashkenazi market, where one could get the most exquisite examples of the four species.
On that particular Succot, he had done just that and had procured a most beauteous example of the four species, which would be used for blessing during the holiday.
While at synagogue, Seri sat next to his father and waved the species during the Hallel prayer as was traditional, when he noticed that in the seat next to theirs, sat another father and son, who instead of a real lulav, had only a few weeds and thorns bound together and instead of an etrog, had a lemon, which was certainly not kosher and acceptable for the performance of the tradition.
Seri could see that the other little boy was angry and embarrassed. Red-faced, he had thrown the weeds and lemon on the ground, causing further distress to his father.
Suddenly, Seri could feel his own father grab him and whisper in his ear, "When I give you a sign, you will say the following:'I want that, Abba. I want just those.'" Being a dutiful son, Seri agreed and before he knew what was what, his father made the sign and he heard himself say, "I want that, Abba. I want just those." Quickly, Seri's father went to fetch the abandoned bound weeds and lemon and handed the beautiful, expensive lulav and etrog set to the father and son.
"Now, I want you to make the blessing on these weeds very loudly and with feeling," whispered Seri's father. Dutifully, Seri did as he was told.
Glancing at the little boy with his father next to them, Seri could see that the unhappy, perpetually bitter little boy was smiling and proudly blessing the expensive lulav and etrog set.
Many years later, Seri realized the true identity of the mysterious "Elijah," who had decorated his father's grave with Succot species. That same boy, who had so benefited from the generous spirit of Seri's father, had grown up to become a very wealthy man who owned a jewelry business in a far-away country.
Sure enough, the man had returned to Jerusalem for a visit around the time of the anniversary of Seri's father's death and it was he who had decorated the grave in thanks.
When Seri saw him and asked him about the decorations, the wealthy man turned to the wall and could not look into his eyes.
"It is said that the third Holy Temple will be built in Jerusalem and the cornerstone for the building, will be one simple, righteous deed," tells Seri today.
"Here then, in the act of my father, is one such deed. Now let us build the rest." - S.S.
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