The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 14 March 2009 / 18 Adar I 5769

A Piece of Love and Humanity

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

At a fundraising dinner for a school that served children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered an unforgettable speech.

"I believe", he began, "that when a child like Shay, who was physically and mentally disabled, comes into the world an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child."

He then went on to tell a story about the time he and Shay walked past a park where boys Shay knew were playing baseball. When Shay expressed an interest in playing ball despite his handicap, his father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play.

"We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning," was the reply, "but I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him to bat in the ninth inning."

Shay's team scored three runs in the eighth inning but still entered the bottom of the ninth three runs behind. They managed to get the bases loaded with two out, and Shay was scheduled to bat. Not only did his team let him but the opposing team did everything possible — intentionally making wild throws with the ball Shay softly hit – so that Shay could be credited with a grand slam and win the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly, with tears in his eyes, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world. Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day."

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