The Girl and the Lamed Vavniks
Once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a very small village where every one was connected to at least one other person because they were all connected to the land and learning. The girl desperately wanted to meet a Lamed Vavnik that she had heard about forever from all her ancestors. And so she bargained with her mother, the Rabbi, giving her half her allowance for two whole months, to get directions to where a Lamed Vavnik lived. And she had to promise never to tell any one when she found the Lamed Vavnik as that would break the mystery of the hidden one. The little girl had a passion for learning like a fire burning deep inside, and she knew she learned best through watching and doing. If she met a Lamed Vavnik, it would be easier for her to learn how to do what they do.
So, on the night of the next full moon, after her family had gone to bed, she put on and then tied her sneakers and wrapped herself in the warm shawl her grandmother had woven for her over her well-worn, favorite flannel nightgown and very quietly walked, sometimes on tip toe, out of her bedroom, down the hall and out the back door of her house and following the directions her mother, the rabbi, had given her.
And even though she had grown up in her town, she did not know everywhere, and the directions were very complicated so she had to take her time by going slowly so as not to miss each turn. And the moon was bright, and the cats were out roaming. She loved cats, and she knew they were watching out for her.
When she finally arrived at the address, she saw a window with a light coming from it. There was a bench under the window and she climbed up on the bench and looked into the window. She saw a woman sitting on a stool, holding in one hand a sewing needle with some dark thread coming out of the eye, and she watched as the woman put the needle with the thread into a piece of plaid fabric she was holding with her other hand. The girl watched the tailor for several minutes and said to her self, “I do not see anything special. My Grandmother sews just like that!”
She was beginning to feel a little disappointed as she slowly turned away from the window and stepped down from the bench back onto the ground. She was confused and was wondering if she had gone to the wrong address and thought, “This is a Lamed Vavnik?” Of course, she realized that she had no idea what a Lamed Vavnik looked like and fueled by her passion to learn she thought, “OK, I want to learn and see more, so I had better check this out.” What could she do?
She breathed deeply and thought for a few minutes and an idea came to her.
She decided to make the hole in her shawl that her grandmother had made for her a little bit bigger and ask the tailor to fix it. And so she ripped a hole and then knocked on the door, a little bit anxious and a little bit courageous and a little bit unsure of what would occur next. The tailor opened the door and saw the girl standing in the dark wrapped in her shawl with her hand sticking through the hole in the weave.
The tailor smiled slowly, as if she had been waiting for the girl to visit and said kindly, “It’s cool outside, come in and what can I do to help?” The girl showed the woman her torn shawl and asked if she could repair it. “Yes,” said the woman and she then walked over to a closet, reached in and said to the girl, “Here is an old blanket that will keep you warm while I work on your shawl.” The girl did as she was told and came back wrapped in the old blanket and felt held and warm and loved and gave the woman the shawl her beloved grandmother had made for her.
The tailor took the shawl from the girl and sat down on her stool, threaded her needle with thread to match the weave of the fabric and began to sew the tear. As the tailor placed the needle into the fabric the girl jumped up, putting her hand where she had felt a pinprick. She thought, “I have been stuck by a needle.” “Impossible,” she thought, as she looked around for a bug or loose needle, “There is nothing around here to make me feel as if I was stuck.” And as the tailor put the needle into the fabric again, the same thing happened to the girl.
After a while the girl began to smile and feel calm and curious and hopeful. She became aware that there was something going on inside her and took a deep breath. And she began to think of her younger brother not just as a pest. Maybe she could be kinder and more patient with him. And maybe her older sister, although she could be real bossy, had some things to teach her. And maybe she would start thinking about how to share her allowance with others instead of looking at what she could buy for herself.
The girl thanked the tailor and was feeling very happy. She smiled, walking home with lightness in her step and heart. She noticed that her shoulders had settled down and her hands were open and relaxed. And that although she had snuck out of her house, and still needed to pay her mother, the rabbi, half her allowance for the rest of the month, and she had a rewoven shawl, she felt excited and calm, very hopeful, and very connected to her feelings and thoughts and to the world around her.
After all she had only 35 Lamed Vavniks left to find and learn from.