From Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul

The Rimonim

The Torah is a Tree of Life to those who grasp
Whoever keeps her is content.

Proverbs 3:18

Wintertime in Old Jaffa, Israel, is sometimes quite cold. It was early evening when a man in his fifties came into my gallery, the Antiquarium. Among the items of silver that he offered for sale was one big rimon, a decorative silver Torah ornament. Only one? Every Torah Scroll needs two, one for each side. They always come in pairs.

“You see, I don’t want much for it. I kept it for so many years . . . since I was a child. I was born in Germany. It was Kristallnacht, and we all had to run to the synagogue in order to save something. I was a little boy then. An old man opened the Torah shrine and handed to me this rimon and said to me, ‘Run!’ So I did. Then I was taken by a Christian family. I did not see my family again. Then we passed to the east, to Romania. That’s where I come from now. I am a newcomer to Israel, and I need the money. I still remember our synagogue in Germany, it was beautiful. . . . You see, the Jews managed to remove and bury many Jewish objects, and that was before the Nazis bombed down and destroyed our beautiful synagogue.”

I had to be insane to buy only one rimon. It was of no use to a synagogue or to a collector of Judaica; the transaction was insane. But I did it, although I did not know why.

It was a beautiful silver rimon, decorated with crowns and bells and lions on top. Two-story towers with alternating pierced windows and arches with bells. This rimon was made by a master, in the city of Fuerth, Germany, in the eighteenth century. So I had that rimon, I polished it and put it on display. Months passed, and the rimon moved from one place to another. Again polishing, and again and again.

Years passed, and this rimon always changed places. Here and there I had a collector who would ask about it and admire it. But always the same question: Where is its pair?

One morning, after many years, I had a visit from a lady who wanted to sell antique silver objects. She opened her bag, and I could not believe what my eyes saw. It was a dream. She had there the second rimon. I asked her where she got it, and she replied, “I am a new immigrant from Argentina. I was born in Germany. It was the day, the terrible day, Kristallnacht, when the Nazis started to destroy the synagogues. We all ran to our synagogue, to save some of the things that were dear to our community. I ran, too. When I was next to the Torah ark I saw this rimon lying there. I took it, then when we got home I kept it with my dolls. I was sent to a convent. The nuns took care of me. Then after the war my father came back and found me. We left for Argentina. Now I am here.”

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“Yes, I had a brother, but as far as I know he was killed in a concentration camp.”

“How old was he?”

“He was three years older. . . . I was three years younger.” She had tears in her eyes; me, too. I bought all the silver she had, and after she went away I compared one rimon with the other. Everything, every detail, was exact. There was no mistake. The two rimonim were born together.

After a few weeks of research I found the man through the Jewish Agency, and I asked the same questions again: “Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

“Yes, I had a sister. She must be dead now, because I never heard from her.”

“How old was she?”

“She was three years younger, but why do you ask all these questions?”

Now I was sure: “I know where your sister is. She is here in Israel. The rimon that you saved and the rimon that she saved are identical. I think you can meet your sister now.”

The man started shaking and sweating and did not know whether to laugh or cry. We went in my car to see his sister. It was his sister. A history of forty-four years passed in that room in seconds. You need two rimonim for the Torah. They are together now. Nothing can happen to them anymore. They are in Israel. Brother and sister—the two rimonim for the Torah.

Denny Pinkus

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