B&H: A Kiddush Hashem
B&H is one of the most famous stores in the world. It is an empire of electronics and photography equipment, in the center of Manhattan, owned by Chassidic Jews, with more than 10,000 customers a day.
The store is closed on Shabbat and so is its website. Its customer service department recently got the following e-mail:
“Hello, I just wanted to drop a note saying how much I respect your religious observance and faith. I am not of the Jewish faith and was surprised that my…order was not processed on Friday night when I tried to place it.
“Quite frankly, in 2018, a week before Christmas, you expect any and everyone to gladly take your money. However, I saw the reason and after some confusion (and looking up what Shabbat was) I gained a level of respect and admiration for your company.
“It would have been easy for you to turn a blind eye to your faith and make excuses why it was OK to conduct business this close to the holidays, but you didn’t. You may have lost sales from impatient people that went elsewhere, but not from me.
“You have gained a customer for life because I know your pride in how you celebrate your faith leaks into other areas of your business. I hope this message gets to the right person and if it does, I just wanted to say A Dank (sorry if I butchered that – depended on Google translation).”
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The other day I had the merit to meet Rabbi Chaim Wolkin, one of the veteran educators of our generation. He was a disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz, and other great people from the previous generation. I asked him: What educational message is most important to impart today?
At exactly the same time I asked him this question, the decision was made to have early elections in Israel. Considering that fact, I fi nd his answer all the more poignant:
“What is most important? The thing I was taught since I knew right from wrong was respect towards others. There is no person who has no virtue. There is no one who does not have something special that deserves appreciation.
“Who is respectable? The one who respects other people. A respectable person is only someone who knows how to respect others. He knows how to find the good point that is praiseworthy in every person, the aspect that makes that person unique in his generation.
“Rabbi Kook explains in his Siddur that we say in davening ‘ad shelo notzarti, eini k’dai – before I was created, I was not worthy’ because it implies that at the moment I was born, I am worthy, and the world cannot do without me.
“Your birthday is the day on which you are told: Go up on stage, we need you! Every person is unique, irreplaceable, and must be respected. This is the most important thing to remember as an educator, as a husband, as a wife, as a child, and as a parent.”