web analytics
September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Love The Stranger

Lessons-logo

A pale young man shuffled into the small Jerusalem yeshiva during kriyat haTorah one Shabbat morning.

He walked over to the bimah, stood next to the gabbai and watched him. He started to copy his every movement. When the gabbai moved his feet, so did the stranger; when he pushed his hat back or scratched his face, the young man did the same. The yeshiva boys were having difficulty concentrating on their prayers. Stifled laughter could be felt if not heard.

When Mussaf began he moved and stood next to one of the boys. The young man copied the yeshiva boy’s every single move – moving his feet backwards and forwards, bowing and swaying. He didn’t appear to be mocking the boy, but he quite obviously wasn’t praying himself. The yeshiva boy had tremendous difficulty concentrating once he realized that he was being watched and imitated. So as soon as he finished davening, he fled the room to release his bottled-up laughter.

Yet again, the visitor took up a position next to another boy, and watched and copied him.

The boys didn’t know what to make of him, but their natural friendliness and hospitality led them to invite him for the Shabbat lunch in the yeshiva. He said nothing as he followed them into the dining room.

The mealtime followed the same routine as the praying. The stranger, who had still not yet said one word, simply copied the person he sat next to. He ate what he ate, and wiped his face when he did. It was as though he had no personality of his own and needed another person to emulate in order to exist. The boys tried to engage him in friendly conversation, but to no avail.

Suddenly, toward the end of the meal, he gave a tremendous wail as though he was in terrible pain. His body crumpled and he started sobbing. Nothing could stop him. His sobbing and wailing continued unabated for some time. When he finally stopped, he plunged once again into silence. One of the boys offered him his bed so he could rest. He wordlessly accepted the offer and lay down on the bed, his eyes remaining open the entire time.

The boys conferred with the rosh yeshiva about the visitor, as he didn’t seem at all inclined to leave after Shabbat. Realizing that the young man was obviously going through some tremendous personal crisis, the rosh yeshiva told them to leave him alone, give him a bed, let him stay, make him feel welcome – and see what the next day would bring.

He awoke early and one of the yeshiva boys, realizing that the young man had arrived on Shabbat with nothing, found him a towel and clean clothes so he could shower before davening.

After his shower he went back to bed, spending the rest of the morning there. In the afternoon he started to talk to one of the boys who sat with him and relayed a strange story of how he came to their yeshiva that Shabbat morning.

He had spent the last few weeks in a very oppressive yeshiva, but he didn’t elaborate as to why he was there. On Shabbat he realized that he could no longer accept the tremendous demands and excruciating criticism of his every move and thought in the yeshiva; he thus decided that he had to leave. But where could he go?

He walked out of the yeshiva and resolved to follow the first person he saw, for wherever he would go was bound to be better than from where he had come. He lost track of the first person he saw, turning his attention to the next person he saw in the street. This happened several times until he found himself in this story’s yeshiva. That was all he would tell of his background.

In the evening he suddenly appeared at the doorway where the rosh yeshiva was giving a shiur and insisted on speaking to him immediately. Realizing the importance of the boy’s decision to talk, the rosh yeshiva excused himself and at once took him into his room. They spoke for over an hour. The young man began to let down his guard slightly to the kindly rosh yeshiva, and started to disclose to him some of his inner turmoil and pain.

Sensing that it was time to consult with someone else who knew him, the rosh yeshiva asked him if he had any relatives with whom he could talk. The young man gave him his sister’s phone number.

Not knowing what kind of reception his telephone call would receive, the rosh yeshiva introduced himself to the young man’s sister and explained that he had been talking to her brother for the last hour. He got no further. There was a tremendous cry on the other end of the line. “He’s talking. Yossi’s talking. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Yossi’s actually talking.”

When the lady calmed down enough to continue the conversation, the astounded rosh yeshiva learned that Yossi had been involved in a traumatic military disaster in his early days in the Israeli army almost eight years earlier. He had shut himself in his room ever since, refusing to speak to anyone. He accepted meals but nothing else. All attempts to help him, to reach him, by both family and professionals had met with futility.

A few weeks before he had somehow been persuaded to leave his seclusion by a group of young men from a ba’al teshuvah yeshiva who had come to visit him after hearing his story. His family, delighted to see him leave his room for the first time in years, had assumed that they would soon hear from him. But now they were beginning to worry that he had not gotten in touch with them.

The yeshiva proved to be too intense for Yossi. When he left that Shabbat, his self-esteem, it appeared, had been at its lowest ebb. He had presumably felt the need to re-invent himself by copying others.

The boys in this yeshiva who had accepted Yossi’s odd behavior without comment, who had welcomed him to their home and given freely of themselves, their rooms and their time without any criticism, had started to break down his reserve. This, together with the kind, understanding rosh yeshiva who had listened when Yossi needed to open his heart, had brought back his will to communicate – hopefully to return to a normal life.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Love The Stranger”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party.
Lapid Slammed by Secular and Press for Shabbat Press Conference
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Ann Goldberg
Goldberg-091214

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

It’s written, it says, with all the segulos for shalom bayis and you gave it as a gift to a chassan and kallah.

One thing Meir couldn’t abide was machloket. He would fight wholeheartedly on behalf of his pupils in a situation involving a dispute – but not so if it was political, educational, or religious in nature.

If your home fits the chaotic description but you’d love to change it to the calm one maybe you should think about joining the ever growing Chatzos Movement – a group of ladies whose goal is to have all the main preparations for Shabbos over by chatzos, the middle of the day on Friday.

Meital and Aharon, married for several years, were thrilled to discover that Meital was pregnant. But within a few hours of their son’s birth, it was painfully apparent that things were far from all right medically.

I knew it wasn’t the right attitude to have but Tisha B’Av 30 years ago was one of the happiest days of my life.

The GPS had not been invented when Shelly set off on a Friday afternoon many years ago to join the Bnei Akiva camp in the English countryside. The organizers always managed to find a farmer who welcomed young campers under adult supervision; thus they set up their tents and during the week took the opportunity to learn the halachot of building an eruv. There would be no problems on Shabbat and they would be able to carry within the campsite.

A pale young man shuffled into the small Jerusalem yeshiva during kriyat haTorah one Shabbat morning.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/love-the-stranger/2013/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: