This week, as I sat in the home of a mourner who had lost
his thirteen-year-old son, I heard one of the most moving
stories I have ever heard, one which demonstrates that every
Jew can be an agent for kiddush Shem Shomayim, even
in situations no one ever dreamed would occur. The following
story was related by someone who had come to console the
mourners, and he even mentioned the names of those involved.
The incident took place recently.
A prominent talmid chochom from Bnei Brak was
severely injured by a police car crashing into him with
tremendous impact. Since then, the rav has been in the
hospital and has been suffering greatly.
A week after the accident, an elderly, secular couple
arrived at the hospital to visit the rav. The rav's family
asked how they knew him. They replied that they don't know
him at all and that was why it had taken a week to ascertain
his identity and find out where he was hospitalized. Why did
they come? They were at the scene of the accident, and what
they saw made them eager to become acquainted with the
What did they see?
The accident was difficult to swallow. People mulled about
the bleeding victim, and all that they could do was to call
Magen David Adom on their cellular phones and hear that an
ambulance was on its way.
The worst moment of all is when you see a severely injured
person right in front of you, writhing in pain, and you are
unable to do anything because you aren't a doctor. The
driver who had hurt him mulled around the victim, frightened
and hysterical, and in desperation said: "I beg your
forgiveness. I'll make amends to you. Tell me what you want
and I'll give it to you."
In a shattered, cracked voice, the injured, suffering rav
replied, "Promise me that you'll keep Shabbos for an entire
year. That will be the best compensation, and I'll forgive
you with a full heart."
Upon hearing this, the secular couple could not go back to
its regular routine. All night, as well as the following
day, the scene disconcerted them. They decided that they had
to visit that special man in hospital. They also related
that they had assembled their entire family, including their
grandchildren, and repeated the story, telling them, as a
sort of last will and testament, "If such are the chareidim,
we understand why it is important that they not go to the
army. We have to protect them so that the Torah they study
will protect us."
Later on, one of the visitors at the house of mourning told
a story of a child who had been run over by a bus driver and
had died as a result. When the bus driver called to console
the family (he didn't dare come in person) he apologized
profusely for the tragic occurrence and said that he
couldn't sleep at night and that his life was no longer
worth living because he had unwillingly caused the death of
the child. The child's mother told him: "I have an idea, and
if you follow through with it, I, the mother of the child
who was killed, promise that we will forgive you completely.
You know that our son had yet to reach the age of bar
mitzvah, and didn't merit to lay tefillin during his
life. If you agree to lay tefillin instead of him
throughout your entire life, I promise to forgive you with a
full heart, and the child in Shomayim will forgive you and
The driver burst into tears, and promised to lay
tefillin. Today, five years after the accident, he
still lays tefillin every day.
Apparently, everyone can be an emissary of faith in the
Creator of the World, during times of happiness as well as
times of sorrow. Noble behavior on the part of the Torah and
mitzvah-observant Jew draws people closer to Hashem and His
Now let's digress from these stories and focus on an issue
very removed from them: the elections. There too, we can
make an all-out kiddush Hashem.
Two weeks ago, a secular journalist called me, asking about
the voting patterns of the chareidi sector. I told him that
I have no idea if we are going to vote or not. It all
depends on what the gedolei Yisroel say.
He said, "And if the rabbonim don't say anything?"
"Then I won't vote," I replied.
"But wouldn't that negate the guidelines of the rabbonim?"
he philosophized. "If they don't say anything, that means
they are giving you the right to decide on your own."
"And within the framework of this right, I will decide to do
what they themselves do, in other words, to refrain from
voting," I explained. "There is a concept known as, `Who
sees them going out and doesn't go out himself?' In
addition, one can say, `Who sees them not going out, and
nonetheless goes out?' The chareidi sector is subservient to
the gedolei haTorah. What they decide to do is what
the chareidi community will do." I suggested that he ask the
man in the street, stressing that he approach the average
This week he returned to me, startled. "Listen. I walked
down one of Bnei Brak's streets at 1:00 in the afternoon,
and asked ordinary people -- those with hats and suits --
and all of them said the same thing you did: at this point,
they aren't voting unless the gedolei hador tell them
to vote. When I asked more incisive questions, I saw that
some people tended to favor Sharon, but in the same breath,
they told me that were the gedolei hador to tell them
to vote for Barak, that is what they would do, and that if
the gedolei hador don't say anything, they wouldn't
That's it, rabbosai: unparalleled kiddush
When this article appeared in Hebrew (Friday, 9 Shevat), we
still didn't know what the gedolei haTorah would tell
us to do. They later issued their instructions. Nonetheless,
this is a rare opportunity to demonstrate to the whole world
that the chareidi sector is not open to election propaganda
or to posters like, "The voice of your brother's blood calls
out to you from the earth," signed by certain bnei
Torah. The chareidi sector is a force that listens to
one command only: that issued by the gedolei hador,
and if such an order doesn't ensue, the chareidim will not
go out to the polls, and in that way will make a great