By Yerachmiel Gorelik, Tyumen, Siberia, Russia | Chabad.org
It was Shavuot morning. Our synagogue in Tyumen, Siberia, was filled with men, women and many children who had all gathered to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments during the services.
After a lavish dairy Kiddush lunch, we began drawing raffles (in a way permitted on the Jewish holiday) for all the children there. We made sure to get lots of prizes in advance, so that each one would get something. Some kids wound up with small games; others received a book of Psalms, a prayerbook or other books.
Finally, there were just two prizes left—the big ones the kids had been eyeing with hope: a scooter and a pair of roller blades.
We pulled out the last two tickets. Daniel became the proud owner of a scooter, and Roma—who’d come to the synagogue for the very first time—received the roller blades.
As the children gathered in groups to admire their new items, I noticed that one boy was not joining in the fun. Five-year-old Michael was off in a corner, crying. I assumed that he might have been envious of his brother, Daniel, who had just won the scooter.
It was only after everyone had left that one of our teachers revealed the situation.
“Since Passover,” she explained, “Michael’s been learning about Shavuot, which comes after 49 days of counting the Omer. Every day, he eagerly added another sticker to the chart hanging on his classroom wall, preparing to the day when G‑d Himself would give His people a special gift — the Torah.”
Finally, the big day arrived, and there in the synagogue were stacks of prizes, including Torah books. As the raffle progressed, he waited with anticipation for “his” Torah to be given to him. When the raffle ended and all he had was a game in his hand, he burst out crying. Disappointed, he refused to participate in the rest of the program.
As we walked home from services with our children, my wife, Sterni, and I marveled at this young boy’s sincerity.
Suddenly, our reverie was broken by our 6-year-old daughter, Mussie, who’d won a Russian volume of “Code of Jewish Law”.
“Ima, Abba,” she began. “You know what? I want to give my prize to Michael. I already have this book in Hebrew at home, and I don’t really need another one in Russian.”
This morning, as soon as they arrived at kindergarten, Mussia handed Michael his new book. The joy on his little face was indescribable.
Michael had received the Torah!