No sooner had the Crazy Dog Lady’s dogs finished their lattes and left, than Rabbi ! rehearsed his sermon. We always get to hear, in advance, what he’s planning to say this coming Shabbat. When he rose to address the patrons of the Epiphany Cafe, we could see it was going to be a hell and damnation doozy.
At any given moment, G-d could get pissed off and destroy the whole world. He’d be justified, too. He’d just be doing whatever any good craftsman would do. He’d be getting rid of substandard product. A glassblower discards vessels that develop a crack. A good writer cuts bad sentences. A carpenter will scrap wood cut wrong and start over. If our beautiful barista was making one of her great coffee drinks, a low fat, caramel macchiato, and she found the milk was spoiled, she’d throw it out, right? She’d throw it out and start over. That’s what G-d would do, and He could do it at any moment.
Everyone nodded, for they knew their barista would never serve spoiled milk. The Lisping Barista, herself, who had been making a mocha, gave it a conscientious sniff.
Any time now, G-d could say screw it, it’s effed up beyond recognition. Sure it would be a tragedy for everyone to have their lives end so suddenly and the world just stop. All we’ve worked for and hoped for, gone in the blink of an eye. But He’d be right, the world’s screwed up and nothing can change it. It’s only going to get worse, so save it from its misery. Then, poof, gone. He wouldn’t do it by water this time; but look out for fire. We’d be out like a flash in the roaring of the flames.
Almost as if by cue, the Moodus noises gave out a groan. Accustomed as the people of Kenilworth were to the Moodus noises, they gave a start. That was just creepy, the serendipitous sound the earth made to accompany the rehearsal of Rabbi !’s sermon.
Even Rabbi ! was startled. He laughed, although he was stricken by fear. By talking about the destruction of the world, he didn’t mean to initiate it. He took note to dial it down when he gave the sermon on Shabbat. He didn’t want the world to end so soon. He had tickets to hear Matisyahu later in the month.
But not yet. Not yet because, as long as there are thirty-six righteous people alive, G-d will not destroy the world. He will still have hope that these thirty-six can redeem, repair, and reform the rest.
The Moodus noises stopped and Rabbi ! seemed very satisfied with himself, as if he were one of the thirty-six and had just then saved the world. We were satisfied, too; but wished he would stop talking and taking so many chances.
They are, what we call in Hebrew, Tzadikim Nistarim, the hidden righteous ones. No one knows who they are; but G-d knows. He can see who they are because he can ascertain a person’s heart. If anyone ever claims to be one of the Tzadikim Nistarim, don’t believe them, because, if someone were to claim to be one of the thirty-six, even to themselves, that is positive proof that they’re certainly not one. You could be one of the thirty-six and not know it. In fact, you wouldn’t know it. That’s why it’s so important to live righteously. We could all be depending on you. If you kill someone, you could be killing or one of the thirty-six. If you tempt someone to sin, you could be tempting one of the people whose goodness we are all depending on. By killing or tempting a single person, you could be destroying the whole world.
Rabbi ! went on and on. He was incapable of giving a short sermon; but many of us knew we had heard the main points. The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat knew enough to be grieved by this talk of the end of the world and a person’s potential part in it. It may have had something to do with that secret he carried. He began his session with the Therapist Emeritus.
The Lisping Barista opened her laptop and began journaling again. The things she wrote explained everything.