Monday, September 24, 2012

Story: The Taxis & the Minyan

I want to share with you a most amusing and heartwarming story:
A man living in Jerusalem was saying kaddish for a parent who died. Each day he would say kaddish at the daily services in the synagogue. It was his way of connecting to the soul of his loved one. Returning home one night at 3:00am from a wedding, he fell into bed exhausted. As soon as he had turned out the light, he realized that he hadn’t prayed Ma’ariv, the evening prayer. He missed the kaddish for his beloved mother. With tremendous effort, he dragged himself out of bed and started to dress.
Where to find a minyan at this time of the morning? 3 AM?
No problem. As anyone who lives in Jerusalem can tell you, day or night, you can always find a minyan at the shteibelach—the small synagogues in the Zichron Moshe neighborhood.
That night there was a miracle. Zichron Moshe was totally deserted; no one was there; nary a hobo, nada.
Taking out his cellular phone, he dialed the number of a large taxi company.
“Hello! Can you please send six taxis to the shteibelach in Zichron Moshe?”
“Adoni (my dear sir)! It’s three o’clock in the morning! You think I have six taxis? What do you think I am, a magician? …I only have five.”
“Okay. So send five!”
He dialed another number. “Hello, please send five taxis to Zichron Moshe…”
“Your crazy? Atah meshugah. I only have four!
“okay so send four.”
Within twenty minutes, there was a procession of nine taxicabs parked neatly outside the shteiblach.
“Adoni,” said one of the drivers, “Why do you need nine taxis? There’s no wedding here, no Bar Mitzvah, nothing.”
“I want you all to turn your meters on and come inside with me. We are going to pray together the evening prayer — arvit ”
“I will pay each of you just as if your giving me a lift. For every minute you are here, I will pay you.”
Dusty yarmulkes (skullcaps) emerged from the glove compartments of the taxis, some woken from a hibernation that stretched back to their owner’s own bar mitzvah.
It wasn’t easy. Despite being obviously fluent in Hebrew, the drivers had no idea how to pray: what and when to answer; when they should pray aloud and when in silence.
It took them quite a while. But the kaddish man, showd them exactly what do do. They had the most incredible, moving prayer at 3:30 AM in Jerusalem, and he said kaddish after his mother.
When they had finished, everyone went out to the taxis; the meters in the cars were pushing upwards of 90 shekels each car. The drivers turned off their meters and the man pulled out his wallet. He would dash out around 800 shekel to all the drivers to pay them for their time.
“How much do I owe you?” he said to the first taxi driver in the line.
“Adoni, what do you take me for? Do you honestly believe I would take money from you who just gave me such an opportunity to help my fellow Jew say kaddish?
He moved down the line to the second driver. Identical reaction. “Do you know how long it is since I prayed?” you want me to take money from you?
And the third and the fourth, all the way down the line to the ninth…
Not one would take a penny.
They embraced and they drove off to a new morning in the holy city of Jerusalem!

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