The gray Fiat snaked its way through Jerusalem's empty
streets and sped its two passengers to their destination.
Chaim checked his watch and noted with satisfaction that they
were making good time -- it was 12:30 a.m.
Keeping his eyes on the road and one hand on the wheel, he
opened his bag and felt for his tools -- wrench, screwdriver,
electric wire, timer. Good. He had everything he would need
for this late-night job. He took a quick glance at his
passenger, Yehuda, who had sat in complete silence for quite
some time. He was staring forward, obviously deep in thought,
his jet-black hair blowing gently in the breeze.
The two men found the address and parked in front of the four
story building. They disembarked and soundlessly closed the
car doors. "No sense in waking up the whole neighborhood,"
the passenger said.
As is the case in most Israeli residential buildings, the
light bulb in the lobby was out of order. "They didn't tell
me the apartment number," Chaim said, "all I have is a name
and a phone number."
They squinted in the dark and tried to make out the names
scribbled over the mailboxes, but to no avail. "Wait, I know
what to do" Chaim said as he reached for his cell-phone. The
phone opened and on came the metallic green light of the dial
module. Placing the phone next to each mailbox, he bathed the
name tags in an eerie green glow, but it was no use -- the
writing had faded a long, long time ago.
"What are we going to do now?" Yehuda asked.
Chaim thought for a moment and smiled. "I have an idea. We'll
stand by each apartment door while I dial the phone number.
I'll let it ring once. If we don't hear a phone ring in that
apartment, we'll move on to the next door until we find the
"Excellent," Yehuda said with sincere admiration. "Now I
understand why you have such an outstanding reputation as a
They found the apartment after three tries and knocked loudly
on the door. After a few moments they heard the shuffling of
footsteps. "Who's there?" a sleepy voice called from inside.
"Good evening Mr. Aloni, it's Chaim from Lev L'Achim. You
asked me to come at 12:45 a.m. on Thursday night. Well, here
I am. I've also brought a friend who will answer any
questions you may have about keeping Shabbos while I install
the Shabbos clock."
A series of bolts and latches clanged and the door swung
open. "Ho, Chaim, my good friend! Thank you very much for
coming at such a late hour. Please, both of you come in."
Chaim got to work on the fuse box while Yehuda explained the
deeper significance of Shabbos observance to Mr. Aloni. As
Chaim reached for the spool of electrical cable, he noticed
that he had less than half a meter left. On a hunch he dialed
the Lev L'Achim office in Geula and sure enough, Rav Avrohom
Zeivald, the Jerusalem branch director, was still there.
"Good morning, Lev L'Achim," Rav Avrohom answered briskly at
"Rav Zeivald, it's Chaim. I just noticed that we're running
out of electrical wire. Could you please order another
"What? You've run out?" Rav Zeivald cried on the phone. "Do
you realize what this means? We've used up 100 meters of the
stuff! That means we've installed 150 Shabbos clocks over the
past year! This calls for a siyum!"
People who know Rav Avrohom Zeivald will attest that when he
says something, he means it.
One week later, a unique "one-hundred-meter
siyum" was held in Lev L'Achim's Geula branch in
Yerushalayim. The kiruv organization's six Shabbos clock installers were the ba'alei hasimchah, and the
guests of honor were HaRav Tzvi Eliach, HaRav Boruch
Shapira, HaRav Uri Zohar, and Lev L'Achim's national
director, Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin. Approximately twenty other
pe'ilim rounded out the list of guests.
All six Shabbos clock installers are full-time avreichim
who dedicate their Thursday nights and Friday mornings and
afternoons to installing Shabbos clocks in previously non-
observant homes. They were taught the fine art of Shabbos-
clock installation by a certified electrician who did
teshuvah through Lev L'Achim.
To imbue the "One Hundred Meter Siyum" with the kedusha
of Torah, the six installers aptly opened the evening with
a siyum on maseches Shabbos.
"The real ba'alas hasimchah is the Shabbos Queen," Chaim
explained. "She is the real guest of honor this evening."
Rav Uri Zohar then expounded on the deeper significance of
installing a Shabbos clock in a formerly nonobservant home:
"For a non-religious person, the decision to have a Shabbos
clock installed in his home is a major turning point. It
represents the culmination of many months of intensive
efforts by our pe'ilim to bring that family to Torah
and mitzvos. When such people request a Shabbos clock, it
indicates more than just a serious commitment on their part
to keep Shabbos; it is also a signal that they desire to
observe all mitzvos with more punctiliousness. It means that
they no longer care what their nonobservant family, friends
and neighbors may say about them. Having a Shabbos clock
installed in one's home is equivalent to starting to wear a
yarmulke and tzitzis."
A modest seudas mitzvah was served. Rav Zeivald
appeared bearing a shiny, new one hundred meter spool of
electrical wire lying upon a silver tray. With a show of
formality he placed it on the table. "May it be depleted
faster than its predecessor," he intoned.
"Imagine," Rav Avrohom Zeivald mused, "this entire spool
costs only 37 shekels! Think of how much olom haboh we
can obtain with it!"
"It reminds me of the story told by the Vilna Gaon's
disciples. Moments before the Gra was niftar, he began
crying. `Our master! Why do you cry?' his talmidim
asked. `Vast eternal reward awaits you in the world to
come.' The Gra answered, `Yes, what you say is true. But look
at what a world I am leaving behind -- with eight strands of
tzitzis that cost a few pennies, it is possible to gain
HaRav Tzvi Eliach and HaRav Boruch Shapira considered
various methods by which to increase the "output" of Lev
L'Achim's Shabbos clock commando. After some discussion, it
was decided to assign one apprentice to each of the six
installers and thereby double the team's "voltage." Plans
were also made to establish such "electrician units" in some
of Lev L'Achim's other 42 regional branches.
The Shabbos clock installers then began sharing some of their
experiences. As they related one inspiring story after the
next, it emerged that they not only install clocks, but also
provide free "maintenance checks." When daylight savings time
comes into effect or ends, they call their "customers" to
remind them to adjust the timer accordingly. When they sense
that a particular individual is not electrically-proficient,
they make a free house call and adjust the clock themselves.
"They also get quite a few phone calls every time there is a
long power failure," Rav Zeivald confided.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin
presented each Shabbos clock installer with a small gift.
"These are for your wives, who make it possible for you to
spend so many hours away from home," Rav Sorotzkin said as he
handed each volunteer a gift-wrapped package. "It is a small
token of Am Yisroel's appreciation for all your efforts."
When the ceremony came to a close and everyone began leaving
the Geula office, somebody cried out, "When we hit 1,000
meters, the siyum will be held in Yad Eliyahu (a
stadium which seats 20,000)!"
The quip drew a round of hearty laughter, but Rav Avrohom
Zeivald's reaction was completely different. "Hmmm," he
mused. "An excellent idea." He looked at his pocket calendar
and made some quick calculations. "I had better make