Friday, April 02, 2010
Two Passover Stories
A Passover Story
The story involves a broadcaster for the Galei Zahal radio station in Israel. I heard the broadcast and would have dismissed the story as a good yarn, as fiction. Except the second player in the story also wrote it up and it appears (in Hebrew) here: http://www.na-nach.net/2009/05/blog-post.html and it confirms the story.
Last spring a young member of the Bratslav Chassidim, the followers of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, was sitting at home in central Tel Aviv on a Friday afternoon. All his friends had gone north to spend the weekend at the shrine of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Meron near Safed. The young man had stayed behind but was feeling depressed and lonely. He was overcome with a powerful yearning to spend the weekend at the shrine of Shimon Bar Yochai with his friends. So he just walked outside his apartment, and held up his hand as a hitchhiker near the Azriella towers at a highway entrance.
One of the first cars to come by was driven by the radio broadcaster, a typical Tel Aviv secularist yuppie. He picked up the Bratslav hitchhiker, saying he was headed towards Ramat Hasharon in the Tel Aviv suburbs. The Bratslaver got in, and they got to talking. Where you headed, asked the driver. To Mt. Meron, to the shrine of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, he responded. The driver looked at his watch. It was less than three hours before the Sabbath starts. It takes 4-6 hours to get to Mt. Meron by public transportation, and considerably longer than that by hitchhiking.
The driver took a long look at the passenger. I will tell you what, he said. If you drive there directly, you have just enough time to make it by candle lighting time. So here's what we will do. Drop me off at my home in Ramat Hasharon, and then take my car to Meron. Then after the Sabbath is over tomorrow night, bring it back.
The driver realized the passenger was probably broke or else he would not be hitchhiking. So before giving him the keys, he stopped at a gas station and filled the car up. The passenger took the car to Meron and returned it the next night.
No one would believe the radio announcer's story, except – as I say – the passenger published his own side of the story on the above web site. According to the passenger, he was overwhelmed with a yearning to be at Meron, prayed that if God wanted him to be there He would send a car to take him. He waited near the highway at a spot where cars never stop for hitchhikers. He describes the conversation and the offer to use the driver's car.
And he describes staring at the driver and asking with all seriousness, "You are Elijah the Prophet, right?"
Passover story #2:
A few years back, I took the kids to the Haifa beach promenade during Passover, where they had French fries. While sitting there, some Russian Jews who had not been in the country very long came and sat down. They ordered some salads, and asked the Arab waiter to bring it to them with Matzos because they did not want to eat chometz during Passover. Then they asked the Arab to also bring them beers. The Arab stood and explained to them that it was not only bread that is chometz but actually beer is also considered chometz and so is also prohibited for consumption by Jews during Passover. The Russians thanked him for explaining that to them. I was reminded about the section in Pirkei Avot, where it says one must feel beholden and gratitude to anyone who teaches one Torah or even a single Hebrew letter. These Russian Jews were beholden to their Arab waiter for teaching them Torah.
Only in Israel!