The Pandemic took a toll on all of us.
We lost loved ones and lost our sense of connection and togetherness.
Many of us also lost our Parnosa.
In Eretz Yisroel as well, many were impacted by Covid.
Tour guides were among the most affected by the disappearance of tourists.
Meir and Nesanel, my two older sons, are both licensed tour guides, and both had more time on their hands than they planned to learn and help their wives over the last two years.
It was a tremendous simcha to our family as tourists began to flock back to Eretz Yisroel around Pesach time.
Last week, my son Meir was privileged to take a family to Chevron.
After seeing Chevron, they stopped at the Gutnick Center for lunch.
The food is excellent, and the location is perfect.
The eatery even has a wonderful non-eating option.
You can purchase a coupon, redeemable for one pizza pie.
Yet, the pizza pie is not for you. The pizza coupon is specifically sold to benefit the soldiers who risk their lives daily to protect those who visit Chevron and the Maaras HaMachpeila.
You purchase a coupon, and when you leave the Center, you give it to a group of soldiers as a small token of Hakoras HaTov (gratitude).
As Meir was at the Center, he noticed a Chassidish couple enjoying their pizza.
He observes that not one but two pizza coupons are in the hand of the Chassidishe man.
As he passes the couple, he says, “Shalom Aleichem,” the man answers, “Aleichem Shalom.”
Noticing my son’s tourist license hanging from his neck, he takes the opportunity to ask Meir some questions about the Maaras HaMachpeiah.
Amid the conversation, Meir asks, “Where are you from in the States?” The man answers proudly that he is from Monroe.
Meir asks, “I assume you are a Satmar Chossid.”
The man nods enthusiastically.
With a twinkle in his eye, Meir says, “I noticed you have purchased two pizza coupons for the soldiers. Should I assume that you support Tzahal and its soldiers?”
Our Chassidishe friend becomes very serious as he answers, “What I think of Tzahal is irrelevant.
At this moment and at this place, our ideological differences are not important.
What is timely and essential is for me as a proud Chosid and for all Yidden who are here to have Hakoras HaTov.
My purchasing coupons for the soldiers has nothing to do with ideology or approval.
These boys are protecting us as we speak and eat.
Without their putting their lives at risk every day, We would not be able to visit Chevron and daven and sit and eat.
If the Rebbe himself ZY”A was here now, he would have bought all the available coupons.
He was very careful about Hakoras HaTov, and his sense of gratitude was boundless.
Of course, I bought coupons for the soldiers.
HoKoras HaTov doesn’t distinguish between a Shtriemel and an army helmet.
It is the least I can do for these brave Yidden who protect us.”
The Chosid then stood up and said, “Come, let us go together to give the soldiers our coupons. I see you have purchased one as well.”
They immediately saw a group of soldiers.
The Chosid placed the ticket into the hands of one of the soldiers.
“Yasher Koach, V’Todah Rabah!” he exclaimed.
The soldier looked at the Chosid and answered, “A’dank.” (Thank you)
The Chosid looked shocked; he wasn’t expecting the young IDF soldier to answer in Yiddish!
The soldier continued as he noticed the surprised look on his benefactor’s face.
“Ich bin oych phun Anshei Shlomeinu!” (I am also part of “our tribe”).
Our friend from Monroe recovered quickly and answered on the spot, “A’Vadai, Voz is d’Shayla!” (of course, you are, what’s even the question?).
The three of them smiled and embraced.
A sense of love, unity, and family togetherness enveloped them.
They laughed and celebrated their familial connection, realizing once again that “so much more connects us than divides us.”
For a too-brief moment, they were no longer ideological rivals. They were brothers who loved each other.
And as they bonded with true love, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yakov- who were just a few yards away, smiled and nodded their heads in approval.
And Mashiach’s footsteps came closer and closer.