SAN DIEGO— The Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam (unwarranted hatred). Conflict and conflagration occur when we feel separate from each other. If we bond with our
fellow Jews, we can work through anything, as the following true story illustrates:
One Friday night in Jerusalem, Rabbi Rafael Grossman heard the noise of an angry argument from his hotel room. He came down and discovered a religious Jew standing in front of a taxi, blocking the way, while the Israeli taxi driver was leaning out the window, shaking his fist.
"Let me through!" the driver demanded, followed by a stream of violent threats.
"I will not let you pass!" the religious Jew screamed. "It's Shabbos!"
He went over to the religious Jew. "You've made your point," he suggested. "You can leave him alone now"...
Rabbi Grossman went over to the taxi driver. "Please, don't use this violent language," he said softly. "There are enough nations who seek to harm us. It's not nice to see two Jews
quarreling like this."
Reaching into the back seat of his car, the taxi driver took out a tallis and siddur and waved them at Rabbi Grossman. "You see this?" he exclaimed. "Tomorrow morning I will go to
shul with my children, the way my father took me. I work tonight so I can afford to send my children to religious schools."
"It's a pleasure to meet a man who's so concerned for his family's education," Rabbi Grossman said warmly. "I would love to get to know you better. Perhaps you and your family
can join my wife and I at the hotel tomorrow morning for the Shabbos meal?"
The man stared at him in disbelief. "You're not serious! That's a very expensive place."
"Don't worry about me," Rabbi Grossman reassured him. "I'm a rich American Jew."
But the taxi driver just shook his head. "No one understands. It's just a waste of time." And with that, he drove off.
Rabbi Grossman went back to the religious Jew, who was still looking angrily after the taxi. "Why didn't you let me take care of that man?" he snapped at him.
Rabbi Grossman countered: "You must judge him favorably. You never know. But tell me, please. Do you have a family?... I would like to get to know you better. So why don't you
join me here as well for the meal tomorrow?"
"No. I'm not coming." And then he left.
The next day, Rabbi and Mrs. Grossman lingered over their meal, hoping that at least one of their guests would show up.
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They were about to give up when Rabbi Grossman noticed a familiar-looking man coming their way, followed by a woman and three children, all dressed in Shabbos finery. The
taxi driver had arrived!
Rabbi Grossman jumped up, wished the man a "Shabbat Shalom," and quickly had the waiter put out new place settings.
The taxi driver, relaxed and happy, looked like a completely different person. "It was so nice of you to invite us. I felt that you were serious last night, and my family was excited
about your offer. So here we are."
"I'm so glad you made it. Where do you live?"
"It's pretty far away," he said apologetically, "so we got here late. It's a long walk."
Rabbi Grossman was impressed that they had walked, rather than drive over.
Before long, five new people walked into the room -- the religious Jew, his wife, and three of their children. The taxi driver took one look, stiffened, and turned away. But Rabbi
Grossman jumped up in delight at the arrival of his additional guests.
"Please sit down! We're so happy you made it!"
The conversation continued... The women were talking and the children got acquainted with each other. Before they knew it, four hours had gone by.
Rabbi Grossman accompanied his guests to the door, thanked them for coming and bid them farewell. As he turned away, he noticed the two men in friendly conversation with
each other, before they too finally went their separate ways.
In due time, the two became good friends, and the taxi driver increased his commitment to Torah observance. Years later, the two families became even closer, when they
celebrated the wedding of their children to one another!
[The foregoing true story submitted by Barry Itzkowitz is documented in "VISIONS OF GREATNESS" by Rabbi Yosef Weiss (CIS Publishers).]
Dedicated by Mr. & Mrs. Aryeh Greenberg. Dedicated by Rabbi & Mrs. Yerachmiel Gettinger in honor of their wonderful children.