Adele Zuckerman, who had lived in my Upper East Side apartment house on the 16th floor since 1966 when she was 54, died earlier this week. She was 100 years old.
Adele was a congregant of my Uncle Slappy's shul. Slappy, as you may know, was for 52 years, the Rabbi of a small congregation called Beth Youiz Miwo Mannow. Through the seasons (such as they are in the era of global warming) Adele and Slappy became friends. And now she is gone.
Adele is gone, but Uncle Slappy is here, having flown up on the 7AM flight from Boca to attend the Shiva--a week long ritual in which Jews mourn their dead and eat sponge cake. Slappy came for both purposes.
Slappy, for all his idiosyncrasies, biases, quirks and more, is a wise man. He reads widely. Not books of the 50 shades of grey ilk, but things of thought, depth and introspection. Sometimes his wisdom is hard to catch amid the barbs, antics and banter. And sometimes his wisdom is buried inside those barbs, antics and banter.
This morning when I opened the door the let in Uncle Slappy he was in the process of taking a handkerchief out of his pocket. As he did so, a coin fell from his pocket to the floor. Slappy, all 86 years of him, bent to the ground to pick it up. His movement was as quick as a Dominican short stop.
"You're looking good, Uncle Slappy," I said. "Not so old that you're not still bending down to pick up a penny."
"It was a dime," the old one corrected. "I suppose I should leave it there. Don't sow in the corners of your fields, after all."
I had never heard the line before: don't sow in the corners of your fields.
Leave something for the poor. Leave something for others. Leave something behind.