Friday, May 12, 2006
I heard the following story from Rav Yaakov Hopfer (Baltimore), who told it in the name of Rav Dovid Cohen (New York):
In Bnai Brak, Israel, there lives a man named Rabbi Avraham Firer, who is known all over the land of Israel - in fact, the world over. He is a Belzer Chassid who, although not a doctor, has great knowledge of medical issues. People call him from all over for references for the best doctors all over the world, in each particular field. He has a personal relationship with most of these doctors and is highly respected by them.
A very wealthy individual went to visit Rabbi Firer and after the visit, they decided they would go to the Western Wall together. It was about 2:00 a.m. and there were very few people at the Wall. As they came closer to the Wall, they heard heart-wrenching sobs coming from an individual. His cries pierced their hearts and Firer told his friend, "Look, if it's medical, I'll take care of it; if it's money, it's your job," and he agreed.
They went over to the man and gently asked him how can tehy help him. He refused their help and said he needed to be by himself, and continued those heat-wrenching cries. They couldn't take the pain and suffering that emanated from this man and went over to him again and were more insistent, but were rebuffed again.
This happened again and this time they just insisted, to which the man told them, "Tonight, I married off my youngest of twelve children, and I was so full of thankfulness and gratitude for all the that the Almighty has bestowed upon me. I had to come here after the wedding and show my appreciation. These sobs were sobs of happiness and gratitude, and I just couldn't control myself."
When we look around and realize the good that we have been given, we should have the same feelings. To be a "Jew" means to be a "Yehudi" which means etymologically to have an extra capacity for thankfulness. That's the root of Jewishness.
(Firer's non-profit website is ezra-lemarpe.org and I found a long piece on him from the Jerusalem post republished here.)