A nice story of Ahavas Chinam

[Hat tip MT … I don’t know where this is from]

A shiva call out of my comfort zone

ZEV SHANDALOV August 6, 2014, 9:21 pm

Zev Shandalov After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and … [More] teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students. [Less]

I just returned from quite a surreal shiva visit. I decided to leave my comfort zone and venture deep into Meah Shearim where the family of Avraham Walles (hy”d) was sitting shiva. He is the man murdered in the terror attack the other day when an Arab overturned a bus, in Yerushalayim.

I have been in Meah Shearim hundreds of times, but pretty much on Rechov Meah Shearim, the main road. I had never ventured down any side streets–before today. Today was different, because today I needed, I wanted to share in the pain of the Walles family.

After receiving various sets of instructions from passersby as to how to locate the home, I finally found myself on Rechov Hevra Sha”s 40. A two story walk-up that belied the stereotype I had in my head of what apartments there “must” look like.

If I had been wearing a neon green shirt I could not have stuck out any more. I, in my kippa seruga (knitted kippa), non-white shirt and completely surrounded by black and white. The family is Toldos Aharon Chassidim (black and white striped frocks). While I had no true reason to feel uncomfortable, to be honest, I did feel a sense of unease.

When I arrived, I stood off to the side. Within seconds, one of the family members (a brother) motioned to me to take one of the empty chairs and to sit down. I sat and listened as people attempted to comfort the grieving family. As someone was speaking to him, the father kept glancing at me and, I assume, was asking himself “Who is this?”

The father then looked at me and, through his gaze, he “asked” me to speak. I told him that I came from Maale Adumim and as soon as I heard the terrible news about his son, I felt I wanted to come and be menachem avel (offering condolences). I said that it makes no difference about what one wears on the outside because INSIDE we are ALL part of the same Jewish family. He began to cry and say that indeed, we are all one family and Hashem’s children.

When one of his brothers heard I was from Maale Adumim, he asked me about the condition of the security guard who was stabbed soon after the incident with his brother! When I said the HaMakom Yenachem to them, the father rose slightly, looked me in the eye and said “Thank you for coming. We all appreciate it so much.”

By stepping out of my comfort zone, I saw such a valuable lesson put into practice: Ahavat Yisrael truly breaks down barriers.

Am Yisrael Chai! May Hashem comfort the Walles family and all bereaved families among other mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim

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Redressing the Charedi imbalance

I received a link to a video which explicates the positive acts performed by Charedim (hat tip Moshe)

It’s important to not fall into the trap that sees all or even most Charedim as lazy parasites who spit on little girls. We all know that it only takes one group of extremists to tar many others. In Melbourne, although our own Adass community has many more extreme Neturei Karta, Toldos Aharon extremists than 30 years ago, one has to say that there are exemplary icons who are more visible and who also contribute to a positive image for Charedim. Icons like Izzy Herzog ז’ל come to mind immediately. I know from many people, including my Uncle, that Izzy was magnanimous with his Chesed. He didn’t check to see if the recipient was ‘truly‘ frum before he interacted with them in exactly the same way that he would react with members of his own community. The Charedi volunteers from Hatzola are an incredible group of people. I know some of them personally after having performed at their children’s weddings. They are Mentchen in the true sense of the word and still stand poles apart from the growing extremist fringe that questions every Eruv string and Animal Sinew, but won’t bother saying “good morning” if they see you in the street because you might infect them. So while we should be positive and proud of the special Chesed acts performed in our own Charedi community, we should not be afraid to voice our opinions.

Last night, in a matter of ten minutes, two young men came to our house. One was a Vizhnitzer Sofer Stam, who needed help with his children, and the other was the son of the Stropkova Rebbe who was collecting for a Kollel for “off the derech” types. I could have just pulled out my wallet and given them something, but I was in somewhat of a fiesty mood. After ascertaining that they weren’t Satmar, I asked them about their attitudes to the Sikrikim. Both condemned them as a Chillul Hashem. I suggested to the Sofer that he find a new gig so that he doesn’t have to feel so bad as to have to knock on people’s doors for a crust. I felt sorry for him. What can he do? A Melamed? He’s a prisoner of his system. Mind you, he had “married off” three kids, and looked a lot younger than me (no smart comments please).

The second guy said that his father the Stropkova davka lived in Kiryat Moshe because he wanted to live amongst a range of “normal” people. I asked him why a Kollel was appropriate for “shvacher” people? Perhaps they should be taught a trade. I asked him what intervention was in place for people like this when they were in Cheder. At any rate, I gave them both. I felt I did the right thing. If you travel out to Australia, I’ll tell you what I think of the extremists who are associated with your dress code.