Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frohes Chanukkah!


His negotiations and brokerage on behalf of Herzog Ignaz completed, Hoffaktor Abraham Weißenheimer had left his equipage behind at Munich with the arrival of the first winter snows, and hired a sleigh and team to hasten his return to Hunsruck. Now after four days working down the Rhein valley, Weißenheimer promised the driver a handsome bonus to make Hunsruck before sundown. The sleigh team ploughed through the snow throughout the day, stopping only to change horses at a coaching inn at midday. As the sun tracked low across the southern sky, Weißenheimer consulted his pocketwatch with some concern.

As the sun dipped towards the Späterwald Hills beyond the Kernerfluss, the sleigh driver proved his word good, and, with a crack of his whip, directed his team through the gates of the Hunsrucker Judengasse, depositing Weißenheimer, his footmen and effects at the door of his townhouse just minutes before the sun vanished behind the hills, casting long shadows across the narrow street. The sleigh driver made his courtesies, thanking Weißenheimer profusely for the purse of pfalzthalers, and made for the gates, to make his exit before the gates closed at sundown.

Bounding past his old doorman Amschel, up the stairs to the door, Weißenheimer heard the cries of children's voices inside as he turned the doorknob. As he opened the door and entered, he was stampeded by the joyous horde of his children rushing to greet him.

"Papa's home!" cried his littlest daughter Judit.

"Father; you made it in time!" exulted his son Samuel.

"Yes, yes; it's nearly time isn't it?" responded Abraham. "Well, is everything ready?"

"Oh yes, Papa; Mama had us get everything ready earlier today."

"Well then, to the parlour!" ordered Weißenheimer; stopping only to embrace his wife Guttle, who directed the parade of children to the parlour to the left. The smell of latkes and fried pastries, tended by the servants in the dining room, filled the house, reminding Abraham sharply how little he had eaten the past day. But, swept up in the family momentum, Abraham and Guttle found themselves quickly led as well to the parlour.

"Samuel, bring a taper from the fire, then, and we'll begin."

His son obeyed, and Abraham, adjusting his hat, took the taper and turned to face the Menorah.

Bowing his head, Abraham prayed,

"Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu l'had'lik neir shel Chanukah. Amein"

"Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Chanukkah. Amen."

"Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam she'asah nisim la'avoteinu bayamim haheim baziman hazeh. Amein"

"Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time. Amen."

"Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh. Amein."

"Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season. Amen."

Taking the taper to the shammus candle atop the menorah, Abraham then extinguished the taper and took the shammus to light the rightmost Chanukkah lamp.

"Frohes Chanukkah to us all!"

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