I recently picked up a new selection from Shaar Press, titled Class Acts - True stories about the power of caring. Many of the short vignettes speak highly about various educators whose lives were turned around by an incident between them and a teacher from their youth. Other stories are told from the teachers viewpoint, how the right action at the right time changed the course of their students' lives.
Amidst these stories is one of the most amazing stories I've seen in a long time. The protaganist is The Disco Rabbi, of whom we've already dedicated a post to on this site.
A fellow gets on a plane from Israel to America, and notices someone stately sitting a few rows away. He senses that it is someone special, by the way he sees him interact with those around him. The man looks familiar, yet he can't place him. Finally, he asks someone who tells him that it is Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman of Migdal HaEmek, otherwise known as "The Disco Rabbi".
A stewardess approaches the Rabbi pleading for a Bracha, crying that her son has just been selected to join an elite IDF fighting unit. He calmly blesses her, but she wants a Havtacha, a promise that all will be OK. He sees that his words are having no effect, so he painstakingly removes a Kameah (amulet) from his wallet and tells her to have her son wear it at all times. This finally placates the woman, who returns to her duties.
The man who witnesses this, approaches Rabbi Grossman and asks if he also can have a Kameah. Rabbi Grossman replies that he is sorry, but that is the only one he had! It was given to him by his great-grandfather, and he had carried it with him all these years until now.
What is amazing about this story is not only that Rabbi Grossman was able to part with a family heirloom to calm a fellow Jewess, but that no one would have been the wiser had the second fellow not asked for a Kameah also.
What bothers me is that people are striving to be a "sideshow".
Why not "Be all that you can Be"?
Would you rather be the Besht or a Bahelfer?
Do you want to be a Bat Boy or the Babe?
Do you strive to be a Ball Boy or Bjorn Borg?
When I was in Yeshiva, I asked my Rosh Yeshiva if I can take some time off to visit Eretz Yisroel. He asked why, and I replied that I wanted to see the Gedolim. To which he responded "Become a Godol yourself!"
The lineup of speaker's at his Levaya was impressive, as was the stately lineup of ambulances outside Shomrei Hadas Chapels on 14th Avenue. It resembled a hero cop's funeral, only this time the parade was made up of Hatzoloh ambulances from every locale, rather than police cars.
Shlomo was a trailblazer. He was the first paramedic in Flatbush Hatzoloh, paving the way for the many paramedics today. Who knows how many lives were saved because of these medics? It was noted that his handle, F-32 is Gematria Lev. Shlomo had a huge heart.
Shlomo was heavily supportive of Camp Simcha, and had a huge hand in starting it. Yet he shied away from recognition, and the children at camp only knew of him when he came to give them helicopter rides.
He paid for countless people to have medical operations when they couldn't afford it, all this was done in a way that nobody would know about it.
He maintained his own Make-A-Wish foundation, transporting sick children all over the world to enjoy vacations that were otherwise impossible.
He cared for all the poor, jobless, childless, jailed, orphans, widows etc. It was mentioned that his sole reason for trying to buy Peninsula Hospital was to give hundreds of people jobs.
He became a Mohel and travelled the world giving Brissim to those in need.
He went to Haiti when they had a big earthquake, he went to Sderot, he was active at the World Trade Center tragedy.
There is so much more that nobody knows about, but that is because he wanted it that way.
Perhaps the most startling piece of information I gleaned from attending his Levaya was the fact that he got up every day at the same time. 6:13 a.m.
The experiment seems to have failed. Tim Tebow has in all probability seen his last NFL game.
I was impressed how he came into the league and did not shy away from his religious beliefs, and I am even more impressed how he has gone. With dignity and Tweets of thanks to those who gave him chance after chance.
As Rosh Hashana is once again upon us, may we learn these lessons of humility; and remember to give thanks to the Sustainer of all Mankind, who gives us chance after chance.