The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 10 March 2012 / 15 Adar I 5772

Still Feel the Warmth

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

How is it that someone so distant from religious belief and practice shows such sympathy for the religious community?

In response to this question put to him by a rabbi, the chairman of the council of a pronouncedly irreligious left-wing settlement in Israel told the following story:

As an intellectually gifted youngster he sought to study in the Radin Yeshiva of the saintly Chafetz Chaim. The instructor who tested him for admission reported to the Chafetz Chaim that, although the applicant was well skilled in Talmud, he had some dangerous heretical ideas. Fearful of the negative influence this fellow might have on the other students, the Chafetz Chaim ordered him to leave immediately. Since the last train from Radin had already left, the rejected youngster asked permission to sleep overnight in the yeshiva. That was impossible, was the reply, but an invitation was extended instead to spend the night in a spare room in the Chafetz Chaims own home.

That night, as our hero was trying to fall asleep, he saw the door to his room open and the Chafetz Chaim stealthily entering. Certain that his young guest was fast asleep the venerable sage stood there for a moment to test the temperature of the room on this winter night. Convinced that it was uncomfortably cold, he removed his fur coat and covered his guest to keep him warm.

And you know, the unreformed but sympathetic heretic concluded, I still feel the warmth of that coat.

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