I have been living in Israel for many years, yet there are still special moments that catch me by surprise. A series of such moments occurred recently, reminding me of how very lucky I am to call Yerushalayim my home.
After spending a successful morning shopping in the center of town, I decided to treat myself to a taxi ride home. The driver was a young, non-religious man in his early 30s. When I entered his vehicle, rock music blared from his radio.
I placed my bags around me, took out my Sefer Tehillim, and began to pray. The driver was watching me as I settled in the back of his cab. When he saw me starting to say tehillim, his fingers ceased their strumming to the beat of the music. Without any prompting, he quickly reached over and shut off the sound.
“Achshav yesh sheket. Titpaleli gam bishvili. (Now it’s quiet. Pray for me, too.”)
The traffic in town is in a state of perpetual chaos due to the laying of tracks for a planned light-rail system. After an interminably long time of waiting in a traffic jam, my driver shut off his meter. He told me not to worry; he would not take advantage of the traffic conditions to charge me an exorbitant fee. He told me that his income is determined by Hashem, and he was not worried about losing this extra income by doing the right thing.
The next day, I realized I might have inadvertently left something in the cab. I took a bus to the taxi company. In response to my query as to the existence of a lost-and- found corner, the manager handed me a key and directed me to a large, metal closet. When I unlocked it, I was so caught up with what I saw inside that I temporarily forgot to look for my missing item.
There were shelves stacked high with sefarim of all sizes: Gemarot, Chumashim, Tehillim and Siddurim. Men’s black hats, representative of just about every stream of Orthodox Judaism, teetered in a high precarious pile. All were waiting for their owners to take them home.
I asked the manager how long he allowed before removing the missing items to make room for more. Although he was not a religiously observant man, one could see the great respect and love he felt for these orphaned objects. He told me these items were his responsibility, and that he would keep them safe until the day they were retrieved and he merited the mitzvah of hashavat aveidah (returning lost articles).
I remembered my reason for coming here, and quickly found the item I had lost. I left for home with a smile of gratitude in having witnessed two examples of men who understood the importance of doing the right thing.