Jewish Soul Journey


         How often have we spent time and
energy trying to help others seemingly without positive results?   When this happens, we find it difficult to
understand just how we could have dedicated so much time to such a fruitless
task.  If you have ever had this
experience or are, even now, ready to give up because you don’t think you are
accomplishing anything, read on and perhaps you will change your mind.

             This true story happened in the sixties,
when coming of age in this Country took the form of rebellion against the
status quo.  For some, this meant trading
all of the trappings of materialism– expensive clothes, luxury cars and a
college education– for a backpack and a one way ticket to the East where they
hoped to find direction in their search for a ‘spiritual’ path.   Many of those young people were
unfortunately assimilated Jews who knew little or nothing about Torah and
its  answer to these questions, but
nonetheless, with Hashem’s kindness some B.H. managed to find their way to the
land (Eretz) of Yisrael where they ultimately came to learn about and live a
life imbued with the ideals of Torah. This story is about one of these young men
who we know and will call Yehuda.

Yehuda was learning in a beginners
(Ba’al Teshuva-Yeshiva-Kollel) school. One day, he noticed a new young man
arrive that reminded himself how he looked five years earlier, with his long
hair, torn jeans and back pack.  Yehuda
at the first opportunity introduced himself to this obviously introspective
young man, whose name was Joey. Since their personalities were of like nature,
Yehuda made extra efforts to help Joey any way he could including learning with

               Each time they learned or were
together, Yehuda tried to introduce him to (Yiddishkeit) his Jewish roots
through its eternal laws and through its beautiful ethical teachings trying to
inspire Joey to appreciate his Jewish heritage, but he unfortunately seemed to
have more interest about making his way to the Far East and kept plying Yehuda
with questions about his own stay there five years earlier.                                   

            One evening, a few weeks later, at
about nine o’clock there was a knock at the door of Yehuda’s apartment. It was
Joey asking if they could talk privately. After inviting him in and offering
some light refreshments, Joey divulged to Yehuda that he had decided to leave
the Yeshiva and world of Torah with his eyes directed towards India. Joey was
clearly sitting with Yehuda in order to try to pry some names and addresses of
people that he had met while he had travelled in that part of the world.

  Yehuda, on the other hand, used the
opportunity to launch a ‘last ditch’ effort upon Joey’s decision by trying to
inspire him in keeping his connection with our precious Jewish heritage through
the path of the Torah. However, about midnight, Yehuda, starting to feel very
tired and a little discouraged, felt like ending the conversation as he had
obligations the next morning at the Kollel and the two of them seemed to have
reached a ‘grid lock’ between their different ideologies.  However, Yehuda rekindled the conversation
with some challenging questions about the deeper purpose of life and the role
of  the Jewish people. Still after all
Yehuda’s efforts, Joey did finally say good night at about two thirty in the
morning thanking Yehuda for his time, and explaining that his decision was
still firm that he intended to leave the Yeshiva tomorrow and start his journey
to the far East stopping only to visit a relative in England for a few days.

               Indeed, the next day, Joey was
gone, Yehuda was tired and a little let
down from what appeared to
have been a fruitless effort.

                It is now six years later:
Yehuda and his family were visiting friends in their large Succah in Jerusalem.
During the festive meal (seuda) a man of about thirty years of age dressed fully
as an Orthodox Jew approached him. 
Smiling, the young man asked, “Do you recognize me?” “The voice is
familiar,” Yehuda slowly replied, trying to place this person who now had a
full beard. Then this young man’s smile became very broad and warm with his
dark brown eyes glowing as he began to speak: 
“Six years ago I was a new student at 
Yeshiva______________.   I was
having a hard time and a very special person spent half the night talking to
me.”  Now, Yehuda was truly incredulous
as he began to remember. The young man continued: “I kept my plans and left the
Yeshiva that night, however while on the plane to England, the first leg of my
journey, something you said that night started to bother me. I tried to ignore
it but could not get it out of my mind. I decided that the only way it would
let me be is if I could clarify the issue. 
When we landed in England, I decided to look for a Yeshiva and put the
question to one of the Rabannim.  As soon
as I got my answer, I would be on my way. 
I made my way to Yeshiva______ and approached one of the Rabbis. After
introducing myself  I asked him the
perplexing question that you had asked me about what it truly means to be born
Jewish in a world with over six billion people?”

 “The Rav undoubtedly saw where I was heading
and how important a question it was to me. 
He sat me down and spoke as a loving father would speak to a son. The
conversation continued until I felt comfortable explaining my plans. The Rav
invited me to stay for Shabbos and somehow I found myself accepting his
invitation.  This meant  postponing my flight to India for a few days
but the Rav’s warmth and intelligent answers rekindled a new inspiration within
me to spend a few more days rethinking my future. By the end of  the holy Shabbos I was recommitted to try
again to stay and learn in a Yeshiva. This wonderful Rav offered to arrange for
me learning partners (cavursos) throughout the day and I was able B.H. to
advance very nicely in my learning and general Yiddishkite. It is now six years
later and  I am, B.H., still learning
full time but now in the Yeshiva’s  (kollel)
school as I merited to marry and have already a few lovely little children.”

With soft tones and a voice
that resonated from deep within his heart, Yosef  then told Yehuda, “I want to take this
opportunity  to thank you for befriending
me and for not giving up on me even when I seemed so hopelessly lost. The
question you ask me about my Jewishness, I had already heard from others before
but apparently there needed to be another ‘ingredient’ in the ‘recipe’  allowing me to ‘sit up and take notice’  of its importance.  That additional invaluable spice was your

nefesh –
up your time, effort and energy to help reach out to a fellow Yid. Well, Joseph
continued: “Through that selfless effort of yours well into the middle of the
night, I not only was later able to find out why I am Jewish but was shown by
you how a Jew  should act..”

P.S. : Oh yes, that ticket to
the Far East was never used and 
fortunately will never be used.    

 May all the Jewish people merit to find their
way back home even if we never know how we have helped them!

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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