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In this week's parashah, we are taught about the Tabernacle the Israelites erected in the desert. The Tabernacle was a major source of holiness which influenced the entire world; Jews and non-Jews alike. Actually, every Jew can influence non-Jews; if he behaves properly and uses proper tactics.

The following story, recorded by Rabbi Zilberstein shlita in Borechi Nafshi, is an interesting example.

A Jewish businessman in London completed a good deal and walked out of his associate's office with 100,000 Sterling Silver in cash. A short way down the block, three non-Jewish bandits, who apparently knew about the deal, stopped him and demanded that he turn over all of his money at once or else they would not hesitate to kill him on the spot.

The Jew decided he would try a unique approach. He addressed the fellow who seemed to be the leader of the pack and said, "Listen. I see in you very positive traits. You seem to me to be highly intelligent and well-mannered. Tell me something. Why do you need my money?"

The bandit was taken totally off guard by the question and replied, "I need money to buy drinks and drugs."

"And how much do they cost?" asked the Jew.

"Five Sterling," he replied.

The Jew magnanimously took out ten Sterling, handed it to the robber and said, "Here is double the amount you need. Please take it, and let me be."

Amazingly, the fellow took the money and told his friends to let the Jew go freely.

The next morning, the Jew went to his shul in the religious section of London, and, to his shock, he met the leader of the pack waiting for him. He was sure that he had regretted the "deal' he had made yesterday and had returned to collect the rest of the booty. But, to his astonishment, the fellow presented him with five Sterling and said, "Here is the change of the 10 Sterling you gave me yesterday!"

The Jew asked the man, "Please explain to me the changes that came over you. Yesterday, you wanted to rob me of all of my money; then you agreed to take only 10 Sterling; and today you returned 5. What happened to you?"

The fellow replied, "I am 27 years old. Until yesterday, no one ever told me that I am a good person with positive character traits. You are the first person in the world to speak to me like that; and I felt that you were sincere. You overwhelmed me and I decided not to steal from you. Yesterday, I was satisfied with the 10 Sterling you gave me. But after I bought my stuff and I was left with change, I decided to return it to you!"

Rabbi Zilberstein commented that this story is one that all parents should take to heart. When they raise their children and reprimand them for what they do wrong, they should never forget to compliment them too and point out their good character traits whenever they can.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel