Encounter on the street

Illustrative photo - Street poster of Rabbi Schneerson (Photo: Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons)

Today I was approached by a smiling young orthodox Chabadnik in black who offered me a picture of the Messiah- Rav Schneerson.

I told him in Hebrew, “He’s not the Messiah. Why don’t you let the poor old gentleman who’s been dead for decades rest in peace?”

But he pleasantly insisted him to be the Messiah.

So I replied, “Maybe Yeshu is the Messiah, as he rose from the dead and in no grave anywhere.”

“No,” said he, “he can’t be the Messiah because he did not keep the mitzvot.”

“Oh yes he did, tsitsit and all.”

“No,” he insisted, “It says so in the Gemara, which is the best book in the world.”

“You better check again,” said I, to which he claimed he already did.  So I said, “Better check one more time. Maybe in our Prophets, like Isaiah who told us ‘all we like sheep have gone astray’.”

Then he said very nicely, “I feel sorry for you,” and I answered, “And I feel sorry for you. Which is a good start, if we as Jews feel sorry for each other, that may be the beginning of love.”

He smiled and so did I as I patted him on the shoulder and said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Amen,” he answered, and we parted amicably.

Elhanan ben-Avraham

Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.