One More Story About Uncle Dan

My thanks to all of you who have read this post, and especially to you folks — you know who you are — who have written kind words of comfort to me at this time.

Reading all those reminded me of one of the stories told at my uncle Dan Levenson’s funeral this Tuesday.

In the Jewish tradition the prophet Elijah will return to herald the coming of the Messiah.  In legend, Elijah is already here, in disguise, ready to announce the news at any moment.  As the story goes, the prophet may be anyone, even the beggar in rags at the gates of the city.  If you know how to look, as one midrash retold at the High Holidays has it, you can even catch a glimpse of him amongst the hordes of the destitute.  He is the one who unwraps and rewraps his rags one at a time — so as to be always ready to leap into action should the Messiah come.

The moral of that story:  pay attention even to the least of one’s fellow humans, for anyone may be Elijah.

My uncle, it turns out — and I had not heard this story from him, nor anyone else till the man was gone — was an inveterate donor to panhandlers, of whom there were plenty around his State Street (Boston) office.  It was his rule not to come home with change in his pockets.  And each time he would give to someone he would say “Thank you, Elijah.”

My Uncle walked his talk.

...(Update — unnecessary preachy stuff removed)

This is, I think, why we have memory, and tell each other stories like this.

Again, my thanks to all who read this blog and have had a thought for me and my family at this time.

Image:  Washington Allston, “Elias (Elijah) in the Waste” 1818.  The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Source:  Wikimedia Commons.

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