Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Tammuz 5762 - June 13, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
"I Wish I Could Tell the Principal..."

"It is rare that I have such a captive audience," said the retired teacher who gives an occasional Shabbos shiur in our neighborhood, "and this true story is too good to sit."

I attended a funeral in Bnei Brak last week. It was hot and feeling completely drained afterwards, I found myself a small kiosk at the far end of Rechov Ben Zakkai which borders on Ramat Gan. I went in, bought myself a bun and a drink, and seeing an empty chair, asked if I could sit down to eat.

"Help yourself," said the proprietor. After a few moments of silence, broken by no customers, he suddenly began fidgeting. "You're from Yerusholayim, aren't you?" he asked, opening the conversation. "Do you have a moment to hear something that happened to me?" Halfway through the bun and curious, I nodded.

"Well, about two and a half years ago, a young couple comes into the store, not regular customers and obviously recent baalei tshuva. The young man turns to me and says, `I owe you a lot of money and I'd like to pay it up now.'

"`A lot of money?' I echoed foolishly. `I don't know you. I never lent you any money.' He nodded, `True, but I stole things from you. I attended Remez (a government school nearby) as a kid and during recess I used to hang around here a lot and take things. Now that I've changed, I'd like to pay up.' I thought for a moment and taken by his sincerity, I offered, `Give me fifty shekel and we'll call it a deal.'

"It was his turn to be thoughtful. `Only fifty shekel? Well, alright, but you've got to take it and declare sincerely three times, `I forgive you, Moshe ben Yitzchok*, I forgive you...' I took the money and forgave him.

"Just last week, two young men come in, one of them vaguely familiar. The second one takes out a wad of bills and announces, `Listen here, a friend of ours owes you some money and he sent me here to pay up.' My eyes widened at the size of the wad. `I don't lend out money and I'm no big business man. I don't even run this kiosk on credit. Besides, I don't even know you, so how can you owe me any money?' He looks at me and says, `You see, it's like this. My friend and I had a classmate... He died just last week and came to me in a dream last night. He confessed that during our school years in Remez, he used to climb into the back window at night and steal lots of merchandise. Over the years, it ran to a large sum. He has no rest there in the other world, he told me in the dream. They won't begin his judgment until he sets this matter straight. So please, for his sake, accept this money and forgive him.'

"I nodded my head slowly and said, `I'll settle with a fifty shekel bill. Sure, I forgive him.' `But you've got to say it aloud,' said the young man, who didn't look at all like what I would expect of a Remez alumnus. `Say: I forgive you, Rami ben Chaim*. Say it three times, and mean it'."

"I did so. The young man shoved the wad back into his pocket and then confided, `You know, we went over to the principal of the Beit Yaakov school not far from here. In our youth, we broke in several times, just for the thrill of it. We stole whatever we found worth taking but we caused them a lot of damage, besides, by wantonly breaking windows and furniture...' he sighed. `We wanted to pay for the vandalism, but she said it was alright, she forgave us. Actually, she was relatively new at the job, she said, but she insisted that her predecessor would surely have been happy to see that those hoodlums had done tshuva.' "

The kiosk man looked at me to see if I was as moved as he was. I was sure this was not the first time he had told the story, either. He concluded his strange tale, "What I would really like to do is to look up the principal of the Remez school and tell her what became of her students..."


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