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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Hand In Hand


Lessons-122311

I was walking home from my weekly Tehillim group when I encountered a very worried-looking young woman. She told me she had been standing outside her apartment when she encountered an old man. He seemed lost, and did not respond to her offer of help. She noticed he was not wearing shoes.

As she stood there, not knowing what to do next, another neighbor came along. This man lived directly across the street from our house. He decided to take the old man into his home. There, he gave him something to drink and a place to rest. Meanwhile, the young woman was busy knocking on people’s doors, asking if anyone knew who the old man was. I joined her for a while, and then I ran home to ask my family to help us out.

My son, Rafi, had just woken up from his Shabbat nap. When I described the general appearance of this old man to my family, Rafi’s face lit up.

“Wait here! I think I know who he is.”

He raced across the street and knocked on our neighbor’s door. When Rafi asked to see the old man in question, he knew without a doubt whose family the old man had been visiting. He would bring the man’s grandson over to escort the weary man home. When my son got there, the family had not yet realized the old man was missing. They assumed he was still napping in the other room.

The old man’s family was new to the neighborhood, and we really did not yet know them. My son, however, had exchanged “Shabbat Shalom” greetings with them as they passed each other on the way to shul that morning. Rafi had noticed that the old man was walking slowly with them.

A few months later, we hosted our married daughters and their families for Shabbat. My younger daughter and I took all the grandchildren to a nearby park, while their mothers rested. As it got darker, we went to round up the children. Where was Meir? My three-year-old grandson was nowhere to be found. We checked the whole park and then checked the shul, calling out his name. Where was he?

Though it seemed like forever, a tear-stained Meir reappeared a short while later holding his father’s hand. Meir had decided to join the men in shul, but got confused in the ever-darkening day. He found himself on a path leading out of the park, not knowing where to turn.

“Abba! Ima!” he cried.

Suddenly, a young woman came out of her house and went over to the distraught little boy. Somehow, she knew which house to bring him to. She must have seen us passing by on our way to the park, just like my son had seen her family walking to shul with their grandfather so many months earlier.

Klal Yisrael is all connected. We must all watch out for each other, hold each other’s hands and love each other as the family we are.

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A few seats away, I noticed a man with a Mishnah in hand, talking intently into a cell phone. I soon realized the man was participating in a Daf Yomi shiur, utilizing his traveling time well.

I insisted that one decoration, a dancing sevivon (dreidel) man, remain hanging in recognition of the chag. Some in my family questioned the appropriateness of this decision. Was it proper to have decorations hanging in what would soon become a house of shiva?

Shimon’s early years were not easy ones. His mother struggled to support both of them. She never acquired the knowledge needed to help her son through school years filled with homework and tests.

Chaim (not his real name) was walking down the street, feeling very discouraged. It seemed that lately, the news was filled with stories depicting the disparities, distrust and dislike between the different streams of Jews living in Israel. Much of it revolved around the different religious affiliations or non-affiliations that people adhered to. There were times when Chaim felt the situation was hopeless, with no way to bring people together as a cohesive group – despite their differences.

Like many religious Jews, our bookshelves contain a variety of sefarim. Among the sifrei Mishnah, the Gemara, the Chumashim, among others, there is one sefer that has special meaning to my family and me.

The rav was not a wealthy man, but earned enough to live comfortably. He earned his money by serving as the rav of a religious community in Yerushalayim. He also received some royalties from sefarim he had written over the years. He was well known, and many people approached him for a berachah, advice and help. They were not turned away.

Like many children, some of my grandchildren tended to rush through the berachot they recited each day. Somehow, the first few words were inclined to run together. The last few words often got swallowed up, especially those that were part of berachot made before eating something they really liked.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/hand-in-hand/2011/12/21/

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