Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Good Old Siddur

There is a small maroon softcover siddur that I keep in my tallis bag and which I use every day.  I bought the siddur from a seforim store back in 1984 or 1985.   The design on the cover and the lettering on the spine have long since faded away.  Some of the pages are a bit faded and a number of the page corners are dog-eared or missing entirely.  The edges of the pages have long since lost their bright white glow and turned a dingy, dull gray.

I have sometimes been asked why I use such an old siddur.  Most people would retire a run-down, well-worn siddur after twenty-five years, especially when the siddur wasn't an inheritance or gift from a special relative, rebbe, friend, etc.  After all, siddurim are not particularly expensive.

As it turns out, there is a reason why I keep this particular siddur and use it daily.  The reason for it can be best explained after you've seen a scan of two pages.

There are eleven pages in the siddur that have scribbles on them in the same red ink.  These scribbles were made by Walter about sixteen years ago when he got a hold of my siddur and a red pen one day when I wasn't looking.  I remember, at the time, being somewhat upset about it, since I had already been using the siddur for a number of years and I happened to like it.

But in the years that have followed, the siddur has grown on me, precisely because my young son scribbled on eleven of the pages.  Those pages have come to have special meaning and significance for me over the years.  I've learned to understand that when I see those pages, I now have something to pray for -- my children.  I see the pages and I'm reminded that I have to pray for their welfare -- their physical welfare, their emotional and spiritual welfare, their social welfare and probably a dozen other welfares as well.  You'd think that a person shouldn't need a reminder to pray for something, but sometimes we show up for davening in the morning bleary-eyed and half-asleep and just "go through the motions" without taking the time to reflect upon what it is that we are asking our Creator for and why we are asking it of Him.  But I have something to help me focus on what's important.  I have some red scribbles on the opening pages of my siddur that has, for the past sixteen years, reminded me of why I need to entreat my Creator.

I may have been upset at the time, but, in retrospect, I realize that I owe a great deal of gratitude to my then-toddler son.  By taking a red pen to my siddur, he has given me a reminder everyday to focus my prayers on the important things in life.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing a small sized Metsudah?

BrooklynWolf said...

You would guess correctly.

The Wolf

Michael Sedley said...

Wow - great post.

I also have a siddur that was decorated by a toddler - although he used a green marker, not red, and I never thought of the value of his contribution until now.


ItcheSrulik said...

Great post. My father still has a rather expensive collectible that I "decorated" with black marker as toddler.

SubWife said...

Very touching. Thank you. I try to remind myself - which is not easy - that kids' mischief makes for great memories. And, I guess in your case, for better kavanah :)

Tzipporah said...

awww, so sweet.

Anonymous said...

what we really need in life are rose colored glasses to see the sweet side of things. thanx for sharing your story.

Woodrow/Conservadox said...

When I am at home I still use my bar mitzvah siddur.