"Dr. Mitzva looked out the window of his office. "Oh my," he said, "it's raining again. I'm so glad I can stay home today. Especially since I lent my rubber boots to Mr. Goldstein and Trudy Silverstone borrowed my umbrella. It's the perfect time to catch up on my mail." Dr. Mitzva sat back in his chair and began to open the tall pile of letters on his desk.
Dr. Emanuel J. Mitzva was a little man with a little mustache and a neat, pointy beard. You could always recognize him by his grey bowler hat and the red dotted bow tie on his shirt. If you turned left at the first corner of Cobblestone Lane in the little town of Cedarville, you saw his neatly lettered sign:
Doctor of Mostly Everything
And he was. He set broken fingers; cured sore throats; put an end to coughs and colds and earaches. He took care of plants and animals; babysat for cranky babies; sang songs to sick children and ran errands for elderly folks who couldn't go out. He also repaired broken dolls and fixed old clocks and showed people how to smile and be happy. If you needed help, you came to Dr. Mitzva. "After all," he would say, "if we don't help each other, then who shall we help?"
Everything Dr. Mitzva did
Dr. Mitzva picked up a large envelope with a colorful stamp. "Well, well! Here's a letter from my old friend Mr. Haddad in Afghanistan. I haven't seen him since he broke his glasses. He couldn't see the letters in the Torah Scroll without them. I got him a new pair and they solved the problem. I wonder if he broke his new pair now?" Dr. Mitzva put on his own glasses, cleared his throat and read:
To my dearest friend Dr. Mitzva, Shalom!
I hope you are in the best of health. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, will soon be here and Jews all over the world are getting ready to blow the shofar. But our very old and precious shofar will not blow. The only sound it makes is a whoofy-poofy sort of sound, not at all the kind of sound a proper shofar is supposed to make. No one here has been able to fix it. I know you are very busy and that Afghanistan is far away from Cedarville, but what will we do on Rosh Hashana without a shofar? You are the only one who can help us. Hoping to see you soon.
With best wishes,
Your faithful friend,
Chaim ben Nachum Haddad
"Oh dear," he thought, "I really am busy. And tired too. And Afghanistan is so far away." He looked out at the rain. "I don't even have my rubbers or my umbrella."
But then he remembered his friend Mr. Haddad and the shofar. "What could be wrong with it?" thought Dr. Mitzva. "I suppose I shall have to go out into the rain after all. I would hate to disappoint Mr. Haddad. Especially before Rosh Hashana."
Not one to waste time, he put on his grey bowler hat, straightened up his red bow tie, took his bag, and hurried to the airport. Before you could say "Rosh Hashana", he was in the sky and on his way.
What a welcome he received in Afghanistan! The entire village came out to meet him.
"How kind of you to come so far," said Mr. Haddad. "We have prepared a small feast in your honor."
Dr. Mitzva smiled. "A small feast in Afghanistan takes at least three days," he said, "and I must be home by tomorrow evening. A glass of cold seltzer and a plateful of your wife's cookies is feast enough for me."
Dr. Mitzva drank the seltzer, ate the cookies and went straight to the synagogue. "Here is the shofar," said Mr. Haddad sadly. "We've been blowing away but not a sound comes out except a whoof and a poof."
"My my, what a beauty!" said Dr. Mitzva. He shone a light inside the shofar. He peered into the narrow end you blow and he examined the wide end where the sound comes out. He tapped both ends and listened to the sounds with his stethoscope. Finally, he announced: "I shall have to operate!"
"To operate?" everyone asked. "On a shofar?"
"Yes. Something seems to be blocking the sound. I think that a little corrective surgery will fix it up."
Dr. Mitzva took his tools out of his bag. Two helpers held the shofar while he inserted a pair of long tongs inside the wide end. Slowly, carefully, he pulled out one small round bird's egg!
"Here is your shofar problem!" he said. "An egg!"
"An egg?? That's what comes of leaving the shofar uncovered on top of the Holy Ark!" said Mr. Haddad. "The synagogue is always full of birds. They sing while we pray. We keep the shofar inside the ark but this year we thought it would be a good idea to air it out. I suppose the birds saw it and decided it would be a safe place to lay an egg!"
Mr. Haddad put the shofar to his lips and blew. A long, deep, mellow sound came out - the very same sound which reminds the Jewish people all over the world that Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgement, is here.
"I knew you could help," cried Mr. Haddad. "The shofar sounds perfect! How can we ever thank you?"
"You have thanked me enough," said Dr. Mitzva. "You gave me the chance to help. Helping people is a big mitzva! It makes the world a better, nicer place. And as I always say, if we don't help each other, then who shall we help? "
"Nonetheless, we must thank you," said Mr. Haddad. "A favor or a good deed must never be forgotten. Especially if someone comes all the way from Cedarville to Afghanistan to do it! Please do us the honor of taking a small gift as a token of our appreciation." He handed Dr. Mitzva a miniature shofar, much smaller than the big one he had fixed, but just the right size for a little man like himself.
"And now you must hurry home or you shall miss your plane," he said.
After more thank-you's and good wishes, Dr. Mitzva packed his shofar and his tongs together with some of Mrs. Haddad's cookies and climbed onto the donkey which was waiting to take him to the airport.
"Shalom and Leshana Tovah - have a good, blessed year!" everyone cried. "You and us and all the Jewish people everywhere!"
"With God's help, I am sure we will!" answered Dr. Mitzva. "I just hope it stopped raining in Cedarville. And off he rode, holding his bag, on his bumpy donkey-ride to the airport.
JUST PUBLISHED! Now you can read twelve wonderful Dr. Mitzva stories by Yaffa Ganz, complete with bright, charming, full color illustrations in a brand new book designed just for young readers. Available from Feldheim Publishers.