Rabbi Raphael Benjamin Levine, the son of the revered Jerusalem saint, Rabbi Aryeh Levine, once asked his father why, when the students came to the Etz Chayim yeshiva where he taught in the morning, Reb Aryeh would study each child who passed. “I’ll tell you what,” Reb Aryeh answered. “You come and stand with me and take a close look at them. What do you see? What do you observe?” The following morning, the son stood with his father and soon thought he understood the reason for his father’s behavior. “It is quite interesting to watch them going in. You can see how eager they are to study the Torah. There I saw a boy pushing ahead of another. He has a zest for learning. That one over there, though, is not at all anxious to enter. His mind is still on the games he was playing.” Responded Reb Aryeh, “Yet I look at different things altogether. That child’s trousers are torn. This one’s shoes are quite tattered and worn. That boy over there is definitely hungry, how will he ever be able to study?” As Reb Aryeh’s son told Simcha Raz: “More than once, my father would take money from his pocket and give it to children so that they could ride home on the bus in the cold winter nights and not have to trudge through the wet, muddy, unpaved streets.”
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1) When you look at people as you walk down the street, what do you see?
2) How can we have similar moral imagination to Reb Aryeh?
3) What things that appear ‘normal’ are actually opportunities to help serve others?
Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)