Dreaming of Moshiach

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Right Shoe First

It was around 3:45 p.m. erev Shabbat, and Dani was on his way home for his Shabbat furlough from the army. Shabbat was to come in that week at 4:25 and Dani lived in Be'er Sheva. While standing at the trampiada (hitch-hiking station) near Netanya waiting for a car to stop that would bring him a little closer to his home, Shabbat was the last thing on Dani's mind. Raised in a non-religious, Israeli family, Dani didn't really believe in G-d, [+/-] show/hide text
but then he had never really given the issue much thought, anyway.

A car pulled up and Moshe rolled down his window. "I'm just going to Netanya, but I'd be happy to take you there. Maybe it'll help you get to where you're going a little quicker. Where are you going to anyway?" asked Moshe.

"I'm going home", answered Dani. "I live in Be'er Sheva".

"Be'er Sheva!" Moshe exclaimed in shock. "Why that's over 2 hours drive from here. How do you expect to get there before Shabbat?" ignoring the fact that Dani obviously didn't look religious.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not religious, so it doesn't matter to me if I get there after Shabbat begins" answered Dani.

Moshe couldn't resist. Just for the off-chance that the soldier would agree, he had to do what he felt was right. "Please come home with me and spend Shabbat with me and my family. We have plenty of space and the food is great."

Dani, a bit taken aback, politely declined and began to move away, back to his position at the trampiada.

"Just give it a try. Maybe you'll have a good time, or at the very least, an interesting experience. Just give it a chance."

Dani, vaguely remembering a time long ago when he spent part of a Shabbat with a religious family in Be'er Sheva who were friends of his parents, didn't relish the thought of being cooped up all weekend in a restrictive environment. Besides, this guy was wearing a suit and black hat, and that scared him. To him, it represented the fanatic element of the Jewish people. But on the other hand, Moshe was right. Maybe he would enjoy the temporary change in his life's routine and have an "interesting experience." After thinking it over in his head for a few seconds, realizing that there were cars behind him waiting to move on, he ran around the other side of the car and jumped in, throwing his duffel bag in the back.

On their way home, they introduced themselves. Dani seemed to feel pretty comfortable with Moshe, despite his appearance.

Toward the end of the Shabbat, Dani had to admit that it wasn't as bad as he'd expected. There was something nice about the family atmosphere; the food, the song, the lively discussion, and the laid back, restful atmosphere. It was time to go, and Dani was thanking his hosts, and saying his good byes to the family.

Moshe, happy to have been able to provide his "brother" with a brief glimpse of what being a Jew is all about, was not totally contented. He needed to do more to keep this spark he'd planted burning within Dani.

"Dani, before you go, I have one request to ask of you."

"I appreciated this shabbat very much. What can I do to repay you?"

Pulling a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch off the bookshelf, Moshe handed it to Dani and asked him to pick one mitzvah that he'd be willing to do everyday. He realized this request might be too much, but he had to try.

Dani, once again taken aback, didn't know what to think. He looked askance at Moshe, but began to flip through the pages of the book. He came to the beginning where it says that a person must don his right shoe first, then his left shoe, then tie his left shoe, then his right one. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. "Is this what Jewish Law is all about?" he thought to himself? As strange as it sounded, he wanted to oblige his host, and this seemed like a pretty simple thing to do. "O.K." answered Dani. "here's my mitzvah".

Moshe took Dani's phone number so that he could "follow up" later and see how Dani was doing.

A few weeks later, as his jeep was about to leave his base to begin their nightly patrol on the Lebanese border, Dani, who had just woken up and threw on his clothes, remembered that he forgot to put his shoes on the way he had been for the last few weeks. He thought to himself- was it worth holding up his patrol to do something he didn't really understand why he was doing anyway? "What the heck" Dani said to himself. He was a consistent person in all he did in life, and this little "project" he took upon himself was no different.

"Wait a minute," Dani yelled to his patrol mates. "I forgot something in the tent."

Dani ran back to his tent, took off his shoes and put them back on as quickly as possible- this time properly.

When he came out, he realized that the patrol hadn't waited for him. He was upset at himself for causing the rest of the guys on his patrol to have to go without him. Ten minutes later, while sitting in his tent, a ruckus was heard in the command post. He ran to see what was happening. The radio operator reported to all present that patrol Almog-8 -- the patrol Dani was supposed to be on -- hit a land mine. All of his buddies were killed - hi'd.

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והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו