On this Shabbat two occurrences made an impact upon my life. Nothing earth-shattering events. No landing on the moon. No eclipses. Only words. Words from an unknown person. Words which came from the heart. Words which touched my heart and made my sabbath a day of joy and delight.
I owe the joy and delight primarily to our ancient prophet Isaiah. “U’k’ratem Shabbat oneg”… you shall call the Sabbath day a day of delight. (Isaiah 58:13).
I owe it secondarily to Matthew, a tall, handsome young man perhaps in his late teens or early twenties.
The second “occurrence” reminded me that this is my article # 873. Using gematria, it becomes number 18 which in Hebrew refers to life. A life made happier because of a young man named Matthew and his kindness to a stranger.
Now back to the Sabbath and the relevance of my title page.
At the end of the Shabbat services as I was walking out of the synagogue a young man approached me and asked me, by revealing my name, if I was that person. I looked at myself up and down, same hair (a bit grayer), same eyes (still blue), my watch was still on my right wrist so I assumed that I was the same person of whom he made inquiry, and I replied “You got me. I am he”.
How he ever recognized me before approaching me remains a mystery. I wear no sign around my neck reading “Shalom. I am Esor Ben-Sorek.” Maybe the Mossad gave him a copy of a more youthful photo and advised him to look for the guy who sings the loudest Aleinu prayer. Especially when it comes to an “Amen” !
Upon admitting to him that I was the correct person, he told me that he is a regular reader of the TIMES OF ISRAEL and he shared very warm and kind words about my articles. He made a point, in particular, of commenting on a recent article dealing with our political circus. And hurrah…. he even approved and agreed with my views
Young Matthew (he did tell me his name) and his gentle words reminded me of a rabbinical saying that is very dear to me:’ D’varim she yotz’im min ha lev nichnasim el toch ha lev…” words that go from one heart enter into other hearts”. And Matthew’s kind words did very much enter into my heart.
So on this particular Shabbat… one to be remembered…… Matthew brought me renewed life and a sabbath of delight which caused my joy of Shabbat to experience its true meaning. It was the birth of a new friendship.
It was also, in another way, a new experience for me. I receive numerous e-mail letters and comments on the TOI website from readers in many countries, near and far-away places. But until this recent Shabbat in a synagogue I had not ever met a reader face-to-face, with the pleasure of shaking hands and wishing a “Shabbat shalom u’mevorach.” Meeting Matthew for brief minutes was a delightful surprise.
I don’t think I had ever seen him before in that synagogue. Perhaps it was something intended to be… another “hashgacha pratit” (divine intervention) to be included in my life’s books of memoirs.
Because of the brevity in our “conversation” I had no time to inquire of his academic studies and his plans for a future career. One thing, however, is a certainty in my mind.
Whatever Matthew Weinstein chooses to study, no matter the path he will walk upon in pursuit of his hopes and his dreams, he will be a one hundred percent successful and talented man.
His sparkling eyes, his broad smile, his sincerity with words and his great gift of stopping to wish well to a stranger makes Matthew a very special young man.
For the “life” and sabbath “delight” which he injected into me, he has ever-lasting thanks.
God bless the parents who gave birth to and who educated such a fine human being. And may Matthew always bring honor and blessings to all whom he loves.
My Shabbat was made happier and holier because of his kind words. Words which came from his heart and entered into mine.