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Instead, the rav sat down inside the ice cream store and kept silent. He tried to identify with the difficult challenge the owner faced. When the owner eventually came to the him and inquired why he was sitting there in Shabbos garb so close to sunset, Rav Levin simply said, “You are certainly facing a great trial and temptation. Nevertheless,

Shabbos is Shabbos.”


The owner did shut down his store before Shabbos and later told Rav Levin, “I realized that you knew and felt just what I was thinking and feeling, and yet you felt pain for the sake of Shabbos. Then I thought in my heart: A Jew like that must not be made to suffer pain.”

One can only wonder how free we could be if we were able to respond with such sensitivity to others. If so, our response to this set of four questions could lead us to a promised land of genuine unity amongst the Jewish people.

Gary Tolchinsky works at a consulting firm in New Jersey. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where he studied mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He is on the Advisory Board of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and is founder of the website He can be reached at