Retelling the Story

Ronit Sherwin

Ronit Sherwin

I have a friend named Harvey who takes me out to lunch annually.  Harvey is 84 years old and we met 10 years ago when he was in the audience of a group I was addressing.  Every time I have lunch with Harvey, he likes to retell the story of our friendship.  It goes like this . . .

In the course of my talk, I told a funny story about how my brothers coerced me to fess up to a “crime” that occurred in our household when we were kids.  The crime was eating my father’s sacred jar of malted milk balls, for which my brother Rafi was the culprit.  Since I never got into trouble, my brothers made me confess to the crime.  And with tears streaming down my face, I did.  It was horrible.  The clincher of this story is that it occurred on the morning of the day of the first night of Passover.  My parents threatened to make us all stay home and not attend the big family Seder gathering if the truth was not told.  Therefore, I became the scapegoat.   

I shared this story ten years ago to teach the lesson of Passover: our obligation to retell the story to our children – all children – every year.   Jews, like all human beings, need a lot of reminders.  We quickly and easily forget the hardships we have been through.  And even more so, we take for granted our freedom and gratitude for our great fortunes.  Passover is remarkable in that it forces us to not only retell the story of our freedom and birth as the nation of Israel, but to see ourselves as if we are reliving the story each and every year at our Seders. 

My second point in sharing the story of the malted milk balls was to highlight that we all have stories to tell.  These stories illuminate our history, our foibles, our humor and our soul.  We should continue to share these stories to remind ourselves how we have grown, how we have learned and how we can reflect with new eyes and gain new insight with each retelling.

So, back to the story of my friendship with Harvey . . . . A few days after Harvey heard me tell the sad tale of my childhood, I received a package in the mail.  It was a bag of malted milk balls with a note thanking me for the best talk Harvey has ever heard and inviting me to lunch.  That is the story of my friendship with Harvey, and I never tire of hearing it retold ever time with have lunch.