The WORD – 10/28/10. Sister Virginia Muller is a nun with the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore. When her brother passed away recently, he left her one thing – a baseball card. It was a pretty strange bequest, and she was probably a little surprised.
But, it turns out that this was not an ordinary baseball card. It was a Honus Wagner card from 1909, one of sixty such cards believed to exist. One of the sixty was sold for $2.8 million in 2007. Sister Virginia’s card is not in such good shape and is expected to sell for “only” $200,000.
Needless to say, Sister Virginia did not originally understand exactly what she had inherited, and she was pleasantly surprised by the value of this gift. As a nun who has taken certain vows, she is donating the proceeds of the sale to her order.
As I read this remarkable story, I couldn’t help but think about how many of us do not fully comprehend the nature and value of the gifts we have inherited from those who came before us. In particular, I was thinking of our common Jewish heritage.
In this week’s portion, both Avraham and Sarah pass away. That left Yitzhak alone as the only full member of the covenant with God. What an incredible responsibility! The future of Avraham’s legacy – which was God’s promise to Avraham – was completely in Yitzhak’s hands.
It would be fair to say that Yitzhak did not exactly have a great “Sunday school experience” – to use the parlance of today. After all, Avraham tied Yitzhak onto an altar just because God told him so. And if the angel had been just a moment later, who knows how the story would have ended?
Despite that childhood experience, he married, had two children and entered them into the Covenant. He recognized the value of the heritage passed down to him by his parents and made sure that he passed it down to the next generation. Our Jewish heritage is a beautiful, invaluable inheritance from previous generations. Sometimes, we don’t even realize what a gift it is.
The way that we can make it our own is to learn the traditions, study the underlying explanations and incorporate the many beautiful rituals and customs into our lives.