Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Teshuvah Story

My usual Kol Nidrei droshoh topics alternated on themes of :

1. Dibbur, Lashon Hara,
2. Bein Adam lachaveiro, Bein Adam Lamakon, Bein Adam l'Atzmo
3. That Tzelem Elokim means Adam M'malla, etc.

All centered about N'darim and the Power of Speech....

One year I completely ignored my prepared text and chose to rant about something that bothered me that very morning...

One of my Shul's leaders had Yahrzeit on Erev Y"K. So we called for a Minyan with S'leechos and Davening. At the end, only 9 showed. I was livid, on his behalf, for the pitiful attendance.

And so that evening, I ranted about how many were there in shul for Kol Nidre, but how that we could not muster a minyan that very same morning. And I trotted out the Hazal about anyone who has a Minyan in his neighborhood and fails to attend is a "Bad Neighbor" a "Schochein Ra". I emphasized the nature of communal responsibility.

It was perhaps the ONLY time in my career that my message was not positive or uplifting on some level. It was simply angry. Even, the Old Rebbetzin upbraided me for the negative nature of my speech.

Yet, HKBH works in weird ways. Unbeknownst to me, in the back of the shul, was a young man in his twenties or so who had rarely attended shul following his Bar Mitzvah. As he reported to me later on: "All I could hear in my head was: "Bad Neighbor! Bad Neighbor!"

Long story short, he began attending shul regularly, was chozeir bit'shuva, married a local woman from a nearby shul, and eventually rarely came to my shul again, but for better reasons!

While it seemed to have been the most poorly received droshoh I had ever given, it actually spurred a young stranger in the back to do the strange, and live a Halachic life from then on.

גמר חתימה טובה
Best Wishes for 5775, RRW

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