A Life Lessons Story by Chana Klein
Are we commanded to honor another no matter where that person comes from?
Is it okay to avoid or snub people who are not just like us?
The parsha Kedoshim begins with “You shall be holy for holy am I, Hashem, your God.
A few paragraphs after we are commanded “You shall love your fellow as yourself – I am Hashem.
Definitely, a connection between being holy and loving others.
What happens if we push away those who are not like us?
I wrote this story about that.
He sat at the roadside with his arm outstretched as if looking for a ride.
He was only 21 years old. But already it was like his life would be ending very soon.
He had fought in the most recent war. Now, he had to leave the army and go home.
He sat there on the roadside, absorbed in his thoughts as the cars whooshed past him. He felt old sitting there. Young people think of their future dreams. They look forward to the future with hope.
But the veteran of war could think only of his past, as old men do.
He fingered the medal of valor that lay in his pocket. He would not wear it on his army-green quilted jacket; He didn’t want others to think that was all he had to show for the past three years.
In reality, that is what he believed.
He picked up the note that he had placed into his pocket next to his medal, so many hours ago. He read it again:
I know that you are on your way home to Netanya. But I just want you to know that I would love if you would come and live with me here in my place in Rehovot. You know how important you are to me. We were like David and Jonathon. Please don’t ever forget that.
A truck stopped. A tan skin- man, whose face was topped with curly grey hair, called out.
“Which way are you going, Soldier?”
“Good. I am driving to Kfar Saba. I could drop you off where you are going.”
“Thanks so much, Sir. Would it be okay if we stopped a few kilometers out of Netanya so I can call my mother?”
“Don’t call me that. Call me Etan.”
He stared out the truck window as the ride continued. He had not been back home in over a year. Suddenly, he thought, “What if everything is now different. What if Netanya was no longer there? What if my house is not there?”
“There is a phone over here. You can call your mother now, Soldier.
Here, you can use this token.”
Etan was too tired to remind the man to call him by his name.
He managed to exit the car and get to the phone.
With great hesitation, he picked it up and put in the token.
“Etan, is that you?”
“When are you coming home? I can’t believe my son is coming home from war! When will you be here?”
I remember when your dad was away at war. He had just wanted to be home taking care of the land. He never wanted to be a soldier. He would always chuckle at how his life turned out. “
“I know, Ima.”
“When did you say you will be home, Etan?”
“Soon, Ima… Ima, can I bring a dear friend home with me? He is troubled.”
“Sure, Etan. What’s his name? “
“Achazia. The problem is that the war has been tough on him.”
“What do you mean?”
“A grenade destroyed his legs.
And his chest, neck, face, and hands have been badly burned.
He is quite a sight.”
“Actually, Etan, don’t bring him here. You shouldn’t. Think of the younger children. What will they think?
“But Ima ….. the war!” his eyes welling with tears. His broken knees were buckling under him. He could hardly breathe.
“Etan, no. I don’t want such a boy in my house. The children will see.”
She would not bend,
“Make up an excuse. I can’t wait to see you, my son.”
The soldier could not hold back anymore.
“Ima. . . I am Achazia.”
“What? What did you say?”
Etan hung up the phone. He wheeled himself back to the truck.
“To Kfar Saba, please.”
“As you want, soldier.”
My Take on “Missed Opportunity”
I believe that if we don’t honor the children of other people, then we will, for sure, in some way, will lose our own children.
The sages tell us that if we push away the people who are far from us, then we will lose those who are close.
“Missed Opportunity” is an example of a mother pushing away a stranger who is far from her and as a result, pushing away one who is so close, her own son, Etan.
Etan’s mother missed that. She missed her opportunity. What a dear price she paid.
Imagine how it could have been for her, for Etan, and especially for the little children, had she said,
“Of course, Etan. Bring your friend home. We can’t wait to meet him.”
What would those little ones have learned and who would they have grown up to become?
We need it all, the good and what does not appear to be good.
That is what the Almighty tells us over and over, in so many laws, and ways. We learn this from laws about the ketoret, the erev rav, noach taking from all the animals, , the formation of Israel.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook said that Ahavat Yisroel (love for the Jew) will not bring Moshiach (the Messiah).
He claims that only when we have Love for all people (Ahavat Olam) will we have our redemption.
We are commanded to be a light unto nations (Isaiah)
Like a candle, we can light another candle without giving up our own light, and each of our candles can light more candles.
Copyright ©2015 Chana Klein