Why the Rabbi Ran in the Marathon

Why the Rabbi Ran in the Marathon

One day, popular lecturer Rabbi Fischel Schachter, was on his way to the hospital to visit an elderly relative.
But when he had almost reached the hospital, he discovered that the street he had to cross to get to the hospital’s entrance was blocked off for the New York Marathon.
Rabbi Schachter approached a policeman, and explained his predicament.
The policeman lifted up his hands, “I apologize, Rabbi, but the only way you’re going to be able to cross this street is to do like you’re also running in the marathon. Just run straight like the runners, but at a little angle, so after a while you will reach the other side, see?”
So, having no choice, Rabbi Schachter, holding onto his black hat and with his Chassidic robe flapping behind him, ran as fast as he could along the marathon route.
And as he ran, he thought, “Why do things like this always happen to ME? Why do I have to be DOING THIS?”
Within a few minutes, Rabbi Schachter had made his way to the hospital entrance. He caught his breath from his marathon sprint as he rode in the elevator up to his relative’s hospital room.
And when Rabbi Schachter reached the room, he found his relative standing at the window, laughing very, very hard. He was still laughing at having seen Rabbi Schachter, bekishe and all, running in the marathon.
Later on, this elderly relative’s son took Rabbi Schachter aside. “I wanted you to know that my father hasn’t smiled in weeks. You made him laugh for the first time for as long as I can remember.”
After 25 years living in Israel, I have only blurry memories of Thanksgiving. But my tastebuds still yearn for pumpkin pie, turkey with cranberry sauce and a splash of gravy. And my heart for the big Macy’s Parade, which we used to watch from my grandmother’s house, and for the ability to sit, again, with my extended family sitting at one table, all together.
But this part of Thanksgiving, even across the ocean, I can do.
Like Rabbi Schachter learned that day he ran the marathon…
To give thanks, even when I don’t know what for…yet.

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