Ethics

For the week ending 5 November 2011 / 7 Heshvan 5772

Talking to the Walls?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I am frequently asked to deliver lectures on Torah subjects to audiences who are interested in spiritual strengthening. What happens if through some mistake in notification hardly anyone shows up? Is there still an obligation for me to deliver my talk?

Answer: A beautiful story is told about a renowned Jerusalem rabbi who was called upon to deliver a talk for a group of Jews in the city of Holon. Some fifty Jews had expressed an interest in gathering for this talk in a private home. At the last minute the scheduled speaker couldn’t make it and an emergency call came to Rabbi Binyamin Finkel to fill in for him.

Rabbi Finkel jotted down the address and proceeded to Holon. After a long search he finally found the home he was looking for and knocked on the door. His wonder at not hearing the noise he would expect to hear from inside a home filled with 50 people was surpassed only by the failure of anyone to respond to his repeated knocking. Just as he was about to give up in despair, the door opened slightly and there stood the host of the lecture in pajamas.

"Wasn’t there supposed to be a lecture here?" asked the Rabbi.

"I’m so sorry," was the embarrassed reply, "but I forgot about the entire affair and failed to notify anyone about the right date."

When he expressed deep regret that the Rabbi had come all the way from Jerusalem he was surprised to hear this response:

"You are as important to me as 50 people. I am ready to study Torah with you in the time period set for my talk and if there is anyone else in your family who wishes to join us he is welcome to do so."

The offer was gladly accepted and the host’s young son joined them for a very special hour of study that included the host’s first introduction to Talmud. Twenty years later Rabbi Finkel met a Jew in Jerusalem whom he did not recognize. The stranger identified himself as the Jew in Holon whom he had introduced to Torah study. He was so moved by that experience that he and his son completely dedicated themselves to Torah study and now the two of them have established a kollel for married scholars in Jerusalem. All because the Rabbi didn't leave.

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