Rabbi Ron Eisenmann
Late night calls and midnight visits are just one of the many ‘perks’ of being a rabbi.
I actually am pleased when people call or make contact, after all it shows they care about Halacha and trust me to help them.
Nevertheless, no one can be available 24/7 and even rabbis sometimes have to sleep.
So it was on this past Shemini Atzeres that I had already ‘gone up and retired’ for the evening when a knock was heard by my daughter.
Upon hearing the knocking she went downstairs and asked who was there. When she opened the door she saw the face of a man who had a concerned look in his eyes. When he asked her if I was available she replied that I was upstairs however, if need be she could wake me.
The fellow thought for a moment and then replied hesitantly, “No, I guess you shouldn’t wake him.”
Upon noticing his hesitance, my daughter again offered to wake me. Once again the petitioner thought for a moment and said again, “No, it’s alright, you don’t have to wake him.”
I was in dream-land when this conversation occurred and had no idea what had transpired.
The next morning my daughter fills me in on the details of last night’s visitor, including his name.
She made the point of informing me that, “It seemed to be something important; not just a question about an air conditioner…”
That day I looked in Shul for the visitor, however, he was not there.
Simchas Torah came and went and many other questions came my way and before I blinked Yom Tov was over and it was already Shabbos Bereishis.
On Friday evening I suddenly saw the mysterious visitor and I approached him.
“Is everything alright? I heard you came to my home on Yom Tov evening?”
He looked at me somewhat surprised and said, “Yes, Baruch Hashem all worked out. I see that your daughter recognized me and told you about our conversation.”
“Yes”, I answered, she was concerned. “I am sorry I was not available; however, you know you could have told her to wake me.”
“I know that, however, I did not think it was necessary. Thank you for asking.”
The incident was forgotten and life went on. That was until a few days later.
I met ‘the visitor’ in the Shul again and he came over to me and said the following: “Thank you again for your concern and please thank your daughter for being very considerate.”
I thanked him for his appreciation and again mentioned to him that I am sorry he came in vain and that he should know that it would have been fine to have my daughter wake me.
He said he understood and we were about to part ways.
He then turned to me and said to me the most heartfelt words I have heard in a long time.
“Rabbi, you mentioned that you are sorry that I came in vain. You must know that it was not in vain. Your daughter offered a number of times to wake you and I could tell that she was genuinely concerned and that she felt my pain. The fact that someone listened to me and cared was appreciated. You don’t see that too often anymore; a young person who feels the pain of someone she doesn’t even know. The visit was not in vain; for as I left your house, I realized that I did not get the answer I was looking for; however, I received something more valuable.
I knew I am not alone; that someone truly felt my pain and cared. That recognition was comforting. The visit was not in vain; I came looking for a halachik answer, and left feeling comforted.”