Caring About Clothes
At the Seder table, on the first night of Pessach festival in 1943, Reb Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch recalled another childhood incident which had taken place fifty-three years earlier, when he was ten years old.
"In honor of Pessach 1890," he said, "I had been bought new clothes and new boots. The custom in Lubavitch was that after the chametz had been burnt in the morning of Pessach eve we would go off to immerse in the mikveh, and then, dressed in our best festive clothes, we would bake the matzah that was to be eaten at the Seder that evening.
"Afterwards we would proceed to the other preparations that had to be made for the evening. One of my tasks was to remove the seals from the wine bottles, especially those on which letters were imprinted, and to ease out the stoppers, being careful not to let the corkscrew touch the wine inside.
"I did this job in my father's study, and as he watched my painstaking care not to soil my new clothes in any way, and especially my anxiety lest my new boots lose their shine, he said: `Among the commentaries that Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi wrote on the prayers in his edition of the Siddur we find a parable. A nobleman sits at the head of his sumptuous table which is laden with all manner of choice delicacies. His dog is busy under the table, gnawing bones. Could one picture this aristocrat forsaking his table and chair, and sitting under the table, gnawing bones?'
"This parable spoke to me so eloquently that I was ashamed to look at my new clothes. That is education!"