Do you ever look at the real estate section? Nearly every classified listing of a property notes that it is spacious. The property could be next to a dump, an after hours club, or a prison but if it has space then well, you have to consider it. We all want space. I need my space – don’t get too close. Space – the final frontier. Give me space.
My wife’s elderly aunt is, unfortunately, unable to care for herself. She is in a home and seems happy there. The aunt, who is in her 90’s, lost her husband last Spring. The couple, who met at a dance when they were in their late 40’s, was married for nearly 40 years. For their whole lives as a couple, they shared a studio apartment in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. They knew the doormen and raved about how wonderful they were every time the subject was remotely broached. These same doormen became surrogate caretakers as the couple grew more frail.
While they were past having kids, the couple took great joy in their families including their nieces and nephews. Both of them, however, shared a true love and passion for Manhattan. They prided themselves on walking and went everywhere in the city. Along their travails, the couple picked up a lot of stuff – programs from Rangers games, restaurant menus, and newspaper clippings. They were collectors – scrapbooks, letters, pictures – you get the idea. Well, remember, they were in a studio which even an over-zealous real estate agent would not describe as spacious (prime location would have to suffice). So, the small studio seemed smaller due to the clutter that comes from a hoarder in a small space. My wife and other family members have been painstakingly going through the many collections struggling to decide what to save and what to throw away. It has been an emotional journey.
So while many of us pine for more space – an addition would be so nice – for our various gadgets and things, this elderly couple is one to think on. They had a small space with way too much stuff. However more importantly, they never complained about their not so spacious apartment because it had enough room for each other. Memo to self: space for others is the most important space and don’t save the old bills.
Chazal tell us of a miracle in the Beis Hamikdash – when all the Jews were there on the holidays, although they were very crowded, when they bowed down at the mention of G-d’s name there was miraculously enough room for everyone. The great ethicists understand this in a homiletical sense as well. When we “stand” – hold our ground, things can get crowded. However, when we “bow” – make space for others and their needs, there is enough space for everyone.