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.