So I was quite proud of myself when I did some research and found out all the required documents I would need to make their citizenship a reality. When I went online to book an appointment, I was lucky enough to find two back to back slots only three weeks away! Yes you could say that the stars were aligning and everything was coming my way! Perhaps G-d realized the intense effort I was making to improve on my organizational skills and wanted to help me move the process right along.
After gathering all the necessary documents, I realized that I only had four years of proof of my residency in the United States, and I needed to be able to show at least five years. After delving deeper I found out that my high school transcripts would serve as sufficient evidence and I promptly called my old school to order a copy. I had a vision of the same receptionist as 16 years ago immediately recognizing me and insisting that she would send them out priority mail recognizing the urgency of the situation… this was not the case.
I spoke with a woman who was very pleasant (but had no idea who I was). She explained to me that I would have to fill out a form and have it notarized to prove that it was indeed me who was requesting my high school transcript. Were there other people asking for my transcript? Was there a modern day conspiracy to obtain other people’s high school transcripts and then use them in a nefarious effort to take over the world? Needless to say I was quite surprised by the security being taken but with no other options went along with the plan.
A friend of our family is a lawyer and she graciously offered to notarize the request for me. So I got in the car, drove to her house, she signed the paper, I drove home, and faxed off the paper happy to know that I was one step closer to my final destination. I was wrong.
I received an email the next day which explained that though I had a notary sign the form, there was no stamp and that the form could not be accepted. I decided not to email back explaining that nowhere on the form did it ask for a stamp and instead called my friend. So, I got in the car again, drove to her house, she stamped the form, and I drove back home. I faxed the form a second time, confident that I was well on my way, and felt pretty good about the situation.
The next day I received another email. This one saying that she still could not see the stamp and asked me to review the document to make sure I had indeed had the notary stamp the paper. I’m not going to lie, I was frustrated. The secretary couldn’t see the stamp? How could that be? I took out the paper and in the blink of an eye I realized what the problem was. The stamp wasn’t the regular ink kind; rather it was one which made an imprint on the paper. Since the stamp was in essence white on white, it could not be seen when sent as a fax. I had no alternative but to spend $25 sending the form priority mail so that the secretary could see the notary stamp and mail me the needed proof for my children’s upcoming appointment at the embassy.
The situation left me thinking quite a bit over the next several days. I understood that the secretary couldn’t see the stamp and that made sense to me. But what was the inner meaning behind this peculiar experience? What could I learn from this? What was the deeper difference between an ink stamp and an imprinted one? An ink stamp is surface level and though it leaves a mark, that mark can be rubbed off or covered up. No matter how you slice it, an ink stamp isn’t completely permanent. An imprinted stamp, on the other hand, changes the make-up of the paper. It literally becomes one with the paper, transforming the paper from what it was, thus changing it at the very core and enhancing its identity.
The same can be said of us. When we learn Torah and do mitzvahs, if we do them with minimal energy, just because we have to, or with a perfunctory mindset, then we are merely stamping them onto our soul. However, when we do mitzvahs and learn Torah with an abundance of energy, sincere zest, and with great alacrity we make an imprint on our soul; the Torah and mitzvahs actually become one with us, and we make a home in ourselves for G-d.
In this week’s parsha, Terumah, Hashem tells Moshe that the Jewish people should build a Beis HaMikdash so that He will dwell “amidst them.” Why does He say “amidst them”; seemingly it should say “amidst it” (referring to the Beis HaMikdash)? This is because each person has the power to make a small Beis HaMikdash out of himself. By leading a life of Torah and mitzvahs, we can accomplish this great feat and imprint G-d in our life, in our soul, in our very being.
--By Rabbi Nuta Yisrael Shurack