An important part of Orthodox Jewish observance over Rosh Hashanah is hearing the shofar being blown. Other significant aspects of the observance are refraining from dealing (or touching) money, not using electrical items – like TV, computer, and phone, not driving or traveling in a car, and not writing. That’s a simplification, but it will do for the purposes of explaining the following scene.
A non religious woman is walking along Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, in the early afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. As she is passing a hotel where there a lot of very religious Jews staying, one of them asks her if she has heard the shofar. When she says she hasn’t, he invites her to sit while he rounds up some of his chums for an impromptu shofar blowing.
I witness this scene, just passing the small crowd as the last of the shofar sounds (making quite a racket) is made. The woman’s face is beaming at the kindness shown to her. The shofar blowers and their supporters are equally happy at having performed this mitzvah for the woman.
She oh so badly wants to show her appreciation. She goes into her handbag and takes out a note to tip the crew and thank them. Cue running away by the shofar blowers. There’s no way they wanted to be anywhere near that money!
I think the poor woman eventually understood, but it was a moment of sharp contrast when worlds collided. And it was funny – regardless of your religious perspective.
[If you still don’t get it, read the background again. Or ask your local rabbi…]