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Tuesday
Mar172015

ONE GOOD DEED LEADS TO ANOTHER

My father arrived in Lubavitch in the afternoon. To be more precise, it was early evening.

He was young, about sixteen years old, and his soul yearned for everything having to do with holiness and Judaism. He left the Litvishe yeshiva in Aix-les-Bains in the early afternoon and in the evening he stepped foot for the first time in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim (Brunoy, which the Rebbe referred to as being similar to the actual yeshiva in) Lubavitch.

After briefly getting acquainted with the yeshiva and the rabbanim, it was time for Maariv which was followed by supper. He realized this by the swiftness with which the bachurim moved from the zal toward the dining room.

These were his first hours in the yeshiva and he walked to the dining room hesitantly and feeling a bit lost. He knew no one and none of the bachurim had welcomed him and showed him around. By the time he reached the dining room, the serving bowls were empty.

My father was really hungry. He hadn’t eaten since the morning and he had had a long trip. On the tables were scattered abandoned plates that had food piled on them by bachurim who misjudged how much they were able to eat. My father, a true Frenchman, would not touch anybody’s leftovers. After walking around and seeing the empty serving bowls, he turned to leave the dining room and headed for the zal.

On his way out he met R’ Yisroel Noach Blinitzky who was known as Yisroel Noach HaGadol [der Groise]. Apparently, the look on my father’s face or maybe the fact that he was leaving the dining room so soon made the old Chassid think something was amiss. He stopped my father and asked him, “Did you eat?” My father mumbled, “It’s okay.”

R’ Blinitzky did not leave it at that. He took my father by the arm and tried scraping something out of the big pots. When that did not work, he told my father to come with him. He had a small house next to the yeshiva and my father could not refuse the elder Chassid with the luminous face. They entered the house and R’ Blinitzky set the table for the boy and served him a satisfying meal. My father realized that his wife had cooked for two and he tried to decline, but R’ Blinitzky insisted and did not leave until he finished everything he was served.

Then he began opening up closets, one after the other, until he found some canned pineapple and served his young guest a sweet dessert. Only after he was sure that my father had eaten and was full did he let him return to the zal. He told him to come to him if he had any problems.

That is how R’ Yisroel Noach welcomed a young, shy bachur from a Litvishe yeshiva. That is how Lubavitch welcomed my father. My father remained in Brunoy and became an ardent Chassid. His brothers and sisters followed him and established Chassidic homes.

•  •  •

Many years later, the phone rang in my father’s office in the Chabad house for French speakers in Yerushalayim. On the line was Ruth (pseudonym). Ruth had made aliya alone through some Zionist program and was taken to one of the religious kibbutzim in the Beit Shaan Valley. Before she left France, a Lubavitcher family that she knew gave her a piece of paper with the address and phone number of the Rebbe’s shliach for French speakers in Yerushalayim with a warm recommendation that she visit him.

Life in the kibbutz was busy with learning Hebrew, Zionism, and history, as well as the intensive work and her new social life. The piece of paper remained forgotten in her wallet, until that afternoon.

That day, they had taken a trip to Yerushalayim for an educational tour. They visited the Kosel, Yad VaShem, and other historical spots. At some point she became somewhat separated from the group and when she returned to their gathering spot she discovered the bus had left without her.

Ruth was alone in the big city where she knew nobody and had no money. There were no cell phones back then and she stood there, not knowing what to do next.

Then she remembered the note she had in her wallet. She had an address in Yerushalayim. She somehow managed to walk to the Chabad house and arrived hungry and tired after a long day.

My father remembered R’ Blinitzky and his welcome and he decided to pass the welcome forward. He arranged a meal for Ruth, gave her some money, and helped her return to the kibbutz. Along the way, my father told her about a seminary for French girls that he ran.

Two days later she appeared at the Chabad house once again, this time with a big backpack. “I decided to join your seminary,” she said.

Ruth also eventually established a Chassidic home.

•  •  •

Sometimes, we do a Jew a favor, we smile, and we help them materially or spiritually. It is possible that at that moment, we are starting an avalanche of goodness and light. We cannot imagine what the repercussions will be. One mitzva leads to another, as does one act of goodness to another.

 

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