The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 25 February 2012 / 1 Adar I 5772

Turning Point in the Lobby

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

It happened in the lobby of a Swiss hotel.

An Israeli visitor active in charitable causes noticed a family parked on lobby sofas at a late hour of the night. Upon inquiring he learned that the father, mother and daughter had an early morning return flight to Israel. In order to save the expense of another night in their hotel room they had checked out and were spending the remaining hours till their ride to the airport parked in the lobby.

When they refused his invitation to come to his room for some refreshments he brought some cookies and chocolates to them in the lobby. Upon his return to Israel he forgot the entire incident until some months later when he received an invitation to the daughter’s wedding referring to him as the main mechutan (title usually reserved for the parents of the bride and groom).

Unaware of his connection he called for clarification. He was told that the bride had strayed from the religious lifestyle of her parents and had become engaged to marry a non-Jew. The trip to Switzerland was a desperate attempt to dissuade her but she refused to budge. It was only on the flight back to Israelthat she kept talking about how wonderful that religious Jew was to them in the hotel lobby. She was so moved by his thoughtfulness that she decided that she wanted to return to a lifestyle which had such values.

The result was that she called off the intermarriage and soon became engaged to marry a fine, religious Jew.

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