Doppelganger - Thursday, December 14

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 12:16pm -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis
Rabbi Shalom Lewis

The Germans have a way with vocabulary. Not a soft language but a gruff lexicon that gets a message across in pithy style. I love the Teutonic word doppelganger. Literally, a ‘double goer’. It means a ‘look alike’. It is said that with billions of human beings inhabiting the Earth, odds are that everyone has a twin.

A beautiful Midrash, extolling God’s divine talent, claims that though there are countless human beings endowed with the same features, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, no two, look alike. That we are all unique creations unlike the redundant, identical faces on coins minted by mortals. It’s a nice thought but I’ll go with the stats, the odds and the numbers that in fact we all have a doppelganger somewhere, lurking in the vastness of this planet.

Years ago, outside a local theater, I was mistaken for Jerry Garcia and asked for an autograph. I gently explained to my ‘fan’ that Jerry Garcia had died, but that I was flattered and grateful for the confusion. More recently, Cindy and I were exiting a New York hotel when one doorman turned to a second doorman and in star struck awe whispered, ‘Look. It’s Kenny Rogers’. I paused. Nodded graciously and introduced Cindy as Dolly Parton, my wife. Why burst his bubble? Inflate it. Give him a daily double. This past Friday night, while walking home from Shul, I was passing a neighbor’s home, excessively bedecked with colorful lights and assorted Christmas inflatables. In front of this festive house a car was parked. As I approached the vehicle I heard the mother gently ask her little boy, ‘What was the favorite thing that you saw here tonight?’ He stretched his gloved hand out the SUV window, pointed to me and said, ‘It was seeing Santa’. I waved, didn’t break character, and wished him a Merry Christmas.

And so, as I approach retirement I have discovered many new options. Resurrected lead singer of a legendary band. A Country crooner. Or, if I’m only looking for seasonal work, I could be St. Nick, though red is not my color.




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