Friendship in Action

Thursday, 12 July, 2018 - 5:23 pm

Rabbi Bunim of Pshischa, one of the early Chasidic masters, developed a reputation as a prodigy at a very young age. Scholars who came to visit his father vied for the privilege to discuss Torah topics with him. Once a group of scholars were visiting and his father asked him to prepare a scholarly presentation on the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests. Young Bunim went to the next room, ostensibly to prepare his Dvar Torah. A while later he returned. Curiously he asked his father and the guests to join him in the next room. When they entered they saw a room with beds prepared for gusts to spend the night. Instead of talking, he demonstrated the Mitzvah through action.

During these three weeks of commemoration for the destruction of the Temple, there is an emphasis on Ahavat Yisrael and Achdut Yisrael – love and unity among the Jewish people. This is to mitigate the baseless hatred and divisiveness that was a primary cause for the destruction. There are a lot of teachings that explain the value of love, unity and friendship. Enough to fill three weeks’ worth of Dvar Torahs and beyond. And then there are those who demonstrate with actions!

I experienced this type of friendship recently. Although he may get upset at me for publicly acknowledging it, I am ready to take the heat so that others learn from his example.

Yesterday, Yochanan and I were on a reconnaissance mission for the New Orleans Eruv project. We were surveying certain trouble spots that were identified as areas that need to be addressed. We were driving between Orpheum and Airline Dr. at the Parish line on Cecil St. We got out to survey that corner and then needed to head back toward Orpheum. We spotted a dirt road that could get us there without having to go all the way around Airline and back. In an ill-advised move we took the road. About halfway through, the car got stuck in the gravel mixed with mud. We tried to get it out but we just dug ourselves deeper into the rut. I told Yochanan to call AAA and then headed back to Airline to flag down a truck to give us a push out. It was hot and sunny. The first truck I stopped – the driver said he was on company GPS and couldn’t go off of his designated route. The second truck was a JP public works truck. The driver said he drove there all of the time but he didn’t want to risk anything because of liability and permission. He offered to call the Fire Dept… Finally an hour later the tow truck came from AAA. After driving halfway toward our car the driver decided that he didn’t want to risk getting his truck stuck so he left and said that he asked dispatch to get us a different kind of vehicle.

We were at wits end. Nearly two hours in the heat; tired, thirsty and sunburned. At that point Yochanan called our friend Adam Stross. As soon as he heard he jumped into his truck and was on the way. He tried pushing the car out but it didn’t work. He went and bought a chain, hooked it up to car and yanked it out.

We are still waiting to the second AAA truck…

Some people talk about friendship while others just do it!

Thanks buddy! We appreciate your friendship!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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