The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, are called the days of atonement since we are to ask for forgiveness not only for our own misgivings, but for the rest of the world as well. We do this even for those we don’t like, even our enemies, since we are all children of God. Thus, it is a time to assess our lives, be grateful for our blessings and to ask for a sweet year – one represented by health and happiness.
While sitting in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, happily listening to the sound of the shofar during the morning service, I noticed something in need of attention. The cloth upon which the Torah (the Bible in Hebrew) scrolls were being read was old and faded. It just didn’t seem appropriate for such a revered setting. The curtain covering the box or Ark of the Covenant which contained the other Torah scrolls was beautiful, deep blood- red velvet, with deeply embroidered design. In comparison, this table covering didn’t match up and was sorely in need of replacing, in my estimation.
My mind began working. As the words of the service passed by me, “We ask for forgiveness for…” my thoughts went, “I wonder how much fabric and trim would be to make the Rabbi a new table cloth for the Torah scrolls?” And then I continued, “But should I even think of such a thing? Maybe the fabric will be too expensive for me. Or, perhaps I won’t buy the right kind of fabric for such an important undertaking. “And, “Who am I to think that I could make such a cloth worthy of the Rabbi and the synagogue?” Then, I came back to more positive thinking and decided to wait until the end of the service and ask the Rabbi for his opinion.
“Rabbi, am I allowed to make you a new cover for the table where you read the Torahs?” I asked. His face brightened at the thought, since he recognized the state of his current cover and although he was a modest person, he seemed happy at the prospect of a new one for his simple synagogue. He responded that yes it was fine. I qualified my offer with being able to find fabric that I could afford and that was appropriate. Before I left, he came over to me and again mentioned the cloth. I knew he approved of my offer which made me smile inwardly. Since it was a religious holiday, I couldn’t do any serious measuring. Thus, I merely used the length from my wrist to my elbow knowing that it was approximately one foot. This is how I figured out the size of the cloth to be about six feet by six feet.
As I left the synagogue I said a little prayer, “God, if this is something that I’m supposed to do, help me find fabric that is suitable that I can afford.” I fixed a price in my head. When I went to the shop to actually look for fabric, I told the shopkeeper of my creative project and he began to help me. I couldn’t find velvet in the right color so I had to find another alternative. The shopkeeper went into this work room and came out with a gorgeous tapestry fabric that looked quite regal and contained the deep blood red that would match the synagogue’s Ark curtains. The only problem was that it was on the small side. I then figured out that about 12 inches all around would be a good border in a gold color and would add enough fabric to be the correct size. As luck would have it, he came out with a bolt of gold dupioni silk. There was exactly 2 yards left on this bolt and when we did the calculations, it was just enough to add the border! Wow, the two fabrics matched together beautifully. Then I needed gold tassel trim. The shopkeeper found some trim and gave me a good price. Since the other fabrics were end of the bolt, he gave me a remnant price. All together the price came to exactly half of the figure I had had in my head for fabric that would have been several hundred dollars retail. Including my work the tablecloth would be valued at close to $400. I was very happy.
Next came the construction of the table cloth. To say it was a labor of love is an understatement. With the added work of the border and the fact that I wanted to line it (I just happened to have lining material at home), it took me close to 30 hours of sewing! In the end, the Torah scroll table cover turned out beautiful, the Rabbi was thrilled when I gave it to him in time for Yom Kippur, and I felt like I had done a mitzvah (good deed) to be sure. In addition, I wrote a dedication to my father’s memory on the lining which the Rabbi said was very special.
My creative project turned out to be divinely inspired, guided and blessed. Hopefully, I’m forgiven for any transgressions over this past year. But, rest assured, I didn’t do it for that reason. I did it because I felt the urge and decided it was the right thing to do.