From Rabbi Baruch Lederman's ShulWeek email:
DVAR TORAH: Toldos
"Kum na..." "Please rise (father)..." (27:19)
When Yaakov was garbed in Esav's clothing, he was still polite and respectful of his father. He was still Yaakov inside. His
goodness could not be suppressed. The goodness of tzadikim (the righteous) still shines even in the most incongruous situations,
as the following true story illustrates:
November 2012 is a month that shall live in infamy in the Northeast, with the Superstorm Sandy hurricane, followed by the Nor'easter
snow storm. Though I now live in San Diego, I grew up in New York. I have many friends and family members there. Houses and cars
were submerged in water. People found snakes and fish inside and around their houses. Salt water did extensive corrosive
damage. One of the areas particularly hard hit was Far Rockaway, New York.
Each day in the aftermath of the storms, carloads of talmidim (students), 15 to 30 to 60 strong, from the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva (RSA)
drove to Far Rockaway to assist those adversely affected. They schlepped, they cleaned, they loaded [belongings], and in some
cases they unloaded [carloads of holy books, water-damaged beyond repair, needed to be disposed of in a proper dignified
manner]. They all returned each day weary and a little sore, but satisfied that they had done a little something to ease the pain of
fellow Jews in need.
One evening, after a day of cleaning, a group of talmidim returned from a day of cleaning. It was time for Mincha (the afternoon
prayers), so they headed straight to the Young Israel of Queens Valley for services. When they got to the lobby of the shul, it dawned
on them that they were clad in dirty, dusty, grimy, sweaty work clothes. They didn't feel it was respectful to enter the main sanctuary of
the synagogue dressed like that. At that moment Rabbi Peretz Steinberg, Rav of the Young Israel of Queens Valley walked into the
lobby and found the bewildered talmidim. He noticed their hesitation and asked them what was on their minds. They explained their
predicament - the awkward dilema of the need to daven mincha versus the inappropriateness of their garb.
Rabbi Steinberg eyed the sorry looking crew and exclaimed, "Not only are you worthy to enter the sanctuary, you deserve to sit at
the mizrach vant (eastern wall. considered the most prestigious seats), because you just returned from helping Acheinu Bnai Yisroel
(our Jewish bretheren) in their time of anguish.”