I am still not sure if it was a ruach shtus (foolish impulse) that motivated me to take the afternoon off from my Kollel yesterday or if it truly was a proper and appropriate decision. Whichever it was, I told my chevrusa what I planned to do (he told me I was absolutely meshuga) and I headed off to the old city.
The old city is a place where there are always secular American or English Jews touring around so I figured that it would be the best place to go. My goal was to emulate Rav Meir Shuster for the afternoon, â€˜the man at the wallâ€™ who has approached literally tens of thousands of secular Jews at the Kotel and around the old city and offered to let them stay for free at Heritage House or take them to a class. I personally know quite a number of yidden who are now rabbonim who became frum because Rav Meir approached them and made sure to connect them to a yeshiva.
I have been considering for a while now that perhaps HKBâ€H wants me to remember my estranged brothers and sisters who are leading secular lifestyles and see if I can help them just as Avraham, Elkana and Rav Chiya were praised for doing in their days.
My chevrusa actually said to me â€œWho do you think you are Avraham Avinu?! You have an achrius (responsibility) to me and the shiur and anyway our learning will help the secular Jews!â€ I replied back â€œFirst of all it says â€˜Ask yourself every day when are your actions going to be like Avraham Yitzhak and Yaacovâ€™ in Tanna deVay Eliahu 25. Secondly, donâ€™t I have an achrius to try and help teach secular yiddim the truth? And thirdly would you be relying on the zchus of your learning if your sister was going off the derech, or would you take a little time off your schedule and talk to her?â€ With that I left.
I arrived at the old city at 2:30 and immediately found a secular Jew standing in the Kotel plaza. I said to myself, â€œO.K. hereâ€™s my chance, I should go over to him and talk to him.â€ But I found that I couldnâ€™t. I stood there for over 10 minutes trying to talk myself into going up to him, but I couldnâ€™t find the courage.
â€œOh no! Heâ€™s leavingâ€ I exclaimed to myself as I saw him head off towards the stairs. â€œI donâ€™t want to lose him!â€ I quickly made my pursuit, following him up the stairs, through the rova and all the way to the pizza shop.
He stopped to buy a slice of pizza, sat down and began to eat. I sat down near him and again tried to muster up the courage to go over to him and start a conversation, but I couldnâ€™t. â€œHashem, how does Rav Meir do it? What am I supposed to do? Can You help me?â€ I dovened under my breath.
â€œOh no! Heâ€™s on the move again!â€ I panicked to myself. â€œIâ€™ve got to start a conversation with him or Iâ€˜ll lose him and my afternoon to boot!â€ Again I followed, just as before, but then to my shock, horror and dismay, he suddenly stopped, turned around, looked me straight in the eye and said to me â€œAre you following me?â€
â€œUhmâ€ I said. I was caught off guard. What was I going to say. Then I donâ€™t know where it came from but I found myself saying â€œI want to introduce you to G-d.â€
He stood there, starred at my face and said nothing for a long while. He was summing me up.
â€œGo on thenâ€ he said.
That caught me off guard too. Again I didnâ€™t know what to say.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ I asked
â€œO.K. Craig – meet G-d.â€ I pointed to all around. â€œHeâ€™s everywhere.â€ I explained.
â€œAre you a Rabbiâ€ he asked.
â€œYeh I guess soâ€ (I have done a few of Rav Zalmon Nechemiaâ€™s smicha tests.) He started to ask me hashkafic questions about G-d and Judaism that he told me he had always wondered about. An hour later when he had to go, he thanked me for the discussion, left me his email address and told me that he had hoped that when he came to Israel he would meet someone that he could ask his questions to.
That evening I told my chevrusa what had happened and he told me that in his opinion the time that I had lost in learning was too high a price for any good that I had done, if indeed I had done any good. â€œOne can not be mvatel Torah to do a mitzva if there are others who can do it instead. If not you he would have found someone else. There are kiruv professionals trained to do this kind of stuff and they can do it a lot better than you.â€
I am beginning to see that there are two types of Jews. Those who have faith that if they continue to learn for themselves and keep Shabbos and Kashrus etc, they are being good Jews and nothing more should be expected from them. Then there are those who believe that perfecting their little world isnâ€™t enough. They believe that it is their duty to open their eyes to the whole world and help others who werenâ€™t brought up to live their heritage. My little â€˜experimentâ€™ yesterday opened my eyes more to the second way of thinking. I do not think that Craig would have started to ask his questions if he wasnâ€™t approached first. How many others will go through their whole lives and never ask the questions that they must have thought about at one point because they were never offered the opportunity to do so?