The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 12 September 2009 / 22 Elul 5769

The Stranger at the Wall

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

The couple which had been childless for about 15 years decided to end their unsuccessful marriage in the least painful manner. A short while after their divorce the woman discovered that she was pregnant. The only thing standing in the way of her ex-husband remarrying her was that his name was Cohen and a kohen is prohibited from marrying any divorcee, even his own.

Heartbroken, he turned to the great halachic authority Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv for guidance. The rabbi told him that there was no way he could halachically permit such a marriage if he was a kohen but urged him to go pray at the Western Wall for Heavenly assistance.

As the husband stood before the sacred wall tearfully and loudly praying he felt a tap on his shoulder. When asked what he was lamenting about he told the stranger his sad story. "Do you have a father?" asked the stranger and the reply was that his father was in an old-age home in the US. The stranger urged him to immediately fly to visit his father. Although failing to understand what point there was in visiting his frail father who could hardly communicate, he decided to follow this advice.

When he arrived at his father's bedside the doctor in attendance told him that his father, Mr. Cohen, had not spoken for months and he should not expect to communicate with him. But as the son related his problem the father, to everyone's surprise, suddenly spoke and informed him that he was not his son, but rather a child he had adopted after the Holocaust. This meant that he was not a kohen after all and the story had a happy ending.

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