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"Then Ya'akov called for his sons and said, 'Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days'" (Bereishis 49:1).

Chazal tell us that our Patriarch, Ya'akov, wanted to reveal to his children the end of all of their exiles, when Moshiach will finally come, but the Shechinah (the Holy Spirit) departed from him and he could not tell them. Consequently, Ya'akov was afraid that perhaps one of his sons was not following in his ways; just as Yishmael and Esav did not follow in the ways of their fathers. But all of his children assured him that this was not the case and declared, "Shema, Yisroel – Hear, O Israel, our father (Ya'akov's name was also Yisroel), Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One. Just as you only believe in One, so do we."

Unfortunately, many a parent has been deeply hurt to discover that at least one of his children is not following in his ways, R.l. Actually, sometimes it is the parent himself who strayed from the ways of his ancestors, and his children are merely following him.

Baruch Hashem, in this generation, those who are loyal to the Torah have recognized their obligation to reach out to those who have gone astray and help them find their way back home. We are witness to the Generation of Teshuvah (Repentance) which the Torah predicted would precede the Final Redemption. However, regrettably, there are some religious people who are still non-tolerant. Instead of bringing the non-religious closer to the Torah, they actually distance them from it. The following story is related in the fantastic book Lulei Sorasechah; Parashas Yisro.

A young Israeli girl was raised in a "lukewarm" home. Her parents taught her to respect rabbis but to keep far away from the Ultra-Orthodox Jews whom they scoffed. When she matured, she decided to check out the situation by herself and not rely on her prejudiced upbringing. On Yom Kippur, she went to daven in Yeshivas Ponevizsh, and was extremely impressed with the serious mood and sincere prayers she encountered there.

She decided to return to the Yeshiva on Simchas Torah. However, as she watched the beautiful dancing, as the men rejoiced with the Torah, she noticed that some religious girls seemed to be whispering something about her. Suddenly, one of them approached her and remarked, "No girl can come here without wearing socks."

As if the comment itself were not insulting enough, it was said in a loud tone of voice so that others turned around to witness the embarrassing scene. The young girl was mortified and she quickly left the hall thinking to herself that her parents had certainly been right. If this is the way religious girls act, she told herself, then she did not want to be any part of them.

However, since her parents had simultaneously trained her to respect rabbis, she decided to pour out her heart to the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Shach zt"l. After Yom Tov, she knocked on his door and, when it was opened, she found a long line of men waiting to speak with the Rabbi. Determined to get everything off of her chest, she prepared to wait, patiently, until it would be her turn to enter. However, much to her surprise, as soon as the person who was with Rav Shach was finished, she was told that she could enter immediately. "Ladies first," they explained to her.

She approached the Sage of Israel and bitterly related how she was humiliated and chased from the women’s section of his Yeshiva on the Holiday. Rav Shach was visibly shocked and answered sweetly, "They have committed a terrible sin. Perhaps they erred unintentionally, but they are still obligated to beg forgiveness from you. I have pity on them – it would be proper to forgive them. It is simply a shame for you to even relate to them at all."

In this manner, for quite a while, while the line of people waiting to get in grew longer and longer, the Rosh Yeshiva spoke with her at length about the strict Torah obligation to be extremely careful of another person's pride, until he felt that her anger had subsided and her doubts had been dispelled.

During that unforgettable conversation, this young girl made a major life's decision. Today, she is the wife of the head of a great yeshiva, a famous teacher of Torah, and all of her sons and sons-in-law are excellent Torah scholars.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel