The next time we saw him, he had graduated and was sure that he wanted to be a businessman, but only in Israel. And yes, he would continue learning a little too. My heart sunk. I thought of all the wasted potential, for this was a bright young man who could go far.
When next he came home, he stood before us wearing a white shirt and suit, with a hat. He had found a yeshiva and was on fire. We were so happy for him. Somehow he was able to make the jump into learning. But first he was tested. Did he know how to learn? He recalled what he had learned in 4th grade with my husband, and proceeded to describe the requirements of a kosher sukkah. The rabbi smiled, and he was accepted.
A few weeks ago he visited us again, this time with his wife and baby. I took a picture. I felt I had to. After all, it was a family photo. And to me, he is my son. Though my husband is certain that it was not only due to us that he became a ben Torah. My husband is sure that it was the tears of his mother who cried over his Shabbos box long ago.
I once told a New York friend how many children I saw actually change in more than two decades of teaching at our day school. I could count them on one hand, I said. Well, to be honest, I could think of only three, three who actually became frum. “Three? All those years, and so few kids! “
Yes, only three. And each one of these three, who lead Torah lives today and are beginning to build families, are three very good reasons to be a teacher – out-of-town.