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Jews Helping Jews: A Message for the Three Weeks

If you get upset at a fellow Jew….please think of this story.

Sunday, July 1, 2018, was Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. My son, Dovi, and his friend Dovid Tanner had spent Shabbos in camp, and were driving home that very hot afternoon when they got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 17 East near Goshen, New York.

In the slow-moving pace, Dovi’s car slightly tapped the car in front. The two cars pulled onto the grassy highway shoulder but partially blocked the left lane. There was no discernible damage and they exchanged information. The other car drove away.

Dovi started driving, but after a short distance the battery warning signal lit up and the car stalled out and would not start. Getting stuck on Route 17 on a very hot fast day is not fun.

As they waited for assistance, it seemed that every chassidishe person who drove by rolled down their window and asked if they could help. A very kind chassidishe fellow stopped and gave them the contact number for Chaverim (a volunteer organization that helps people in need), and another chassidishe person helped push the car off the road and tried to jumpstart the car—to no avail. Either the battery or alternator were not working.

They called Chaverim, and Reb Yoily Zandal (the Chaverim on-call volunteer) stayed with Dovi and Dovid to try to figure out what to do with the car. With the assistance of the New York State Police the car was towed to Chet’s Garage in Goshen.

Reb Zandal then brought them to Beis HaKnesses HaGedolah in Kiryas Joel for Maariv and went to arrange accommodations for them.

Meanwhile, Reb Yaakov Kellner spotted the two of them after Maariv and offered to bring them to his house for supper and got them food and drinks to break their fast. Reb Zandal returned and explained to Reb Kellner that he had already made arrangements for them.

Reb Zandal then drove them to Rav Gross’ house, who insisted that he carry their belongings out of the car into his house. After apologizing that he would have provided a “Seudas Shloyme Hamelech” if he had known in advance that they were coming, Rebbetzin Gross provided a multiple-course meat meal. Rav Gross sat with Dovi and Dovid for hours and they shared divrei Torah and stories. Rav Gross invited them for any Shabbos—just let him know a few days in advance. At 11:40 p.m. Rav Gross escorted them to two neatly set beds to sleep for the night.

On Monday morning they went to shul and learned for a little while. They returned to the Gross residence and Rebbetzin Gross greeted them and served them a lavish multiple-course breakfast.

Later that morning, as they waited for the car to be fixed, they went to the kollel beis midrash and were greeted very warmly.

Dovi called the garage and was told that the car would be ready in the early- to mid-afternoon.

After Mincha they walked back to the Gross’ house and a local resident accompanied them. He said “it was siyata dishmaya that they ended up in Kiryas Joel because encounters like these break down the perceived borders between members of klal Yisrael… There are too many pirudim, too many dilugim, among klal Yisrael.” [There is too much divisiveness among Jews.]

They were driven to the garage and the driver shared advice if something like this were to happen again. On the way, Rav Gross called to wish them well. At 10 p.m. on Monday night, Rav Gross called again to make sure everything went smoothly.

Mi k’amcha Yisrael.

Dovi and Dovid wanted to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu for allowing them to experience such kindness from Hashem’s precious and gracious children—our brothers and sisters.

We are in the middle of the Three Weeks, and we lost the Beit Hamikdash due to sinat chinam. My son just experienced tremendous ahavat chinam. In the zechut of all of our people doing chesed every single day, may we merit the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash b’m’heirah b’yameinu.

By Larry Shafier

Larry Shafier is a resident of Jerusalem/Teaneck.

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