A young mother from a chashuv family that belonged to a mainstream Chassidus was sitting shiva for her young child who died only a few weeks after unexpectedly becoming ill. She seemed at peace with everything and stronger for the experience, though she frankly admitted that she had been a terrified, confused wreck when it all first started. She spoke of all the kindnesses that had occurred amid the trauma and all the things she was grateful for during that harsh period. The child and his medical situation had been a conduit for an outpouring of prayer and good deeds in communities around the world, indicating that he possessed a very special soul. Someone asked her how she'd attained the emotional equilibrium she displayed during the shiva. The young mother reached behind her and held up a book: Sha'arav B'Todah - Garden of Gratitude by Rav Shalom Arush in Hebrew.
"This book kept me going," she said. "I couldn't have made it through without this book."
I was awed.
Furthermore, I'd heard that in this young mother's Chassidus, Breslov - while not despised - was not appreciated and that having a copy of Likutei Mohoran in your home would be considered inappropriate.
Yet here was this frum-from-birth Ashkenazi Chassidish woman holding up a book written by a Sephardi Breslov baal teshuvah. (And if you're wondering, some of the people in the room did a double-take when she did that.) Then another woman from that same Chassidus chimed in about how she'd received a lot of good guidance from that same book and another woman asked to see it.
For all our talk of Erev Rav and everything going on around us produced by sick souls, both in the Jewish and non-Jewish world, it was inspiring and comforting to see the example of a true Jewish soul. The Jewish neshama is so thirsty for Truth and closeness to Hashem, it doesn't care about the externals of the messenger as long as the message is authentic Torah.
* * *
A few scary-looking boys from local frum families who were now "at risk" (as they say) were loitering outside a residential building late at night in a very chareidi neighborhood, drinking beer and smoking and talking. A Chassidish man with a beard down to his stomach, whose apartment's windows were only a couple of meters from where the boys were talking, came out and asked them to please be quiet or move.
Later, this same man saw one of the boys and approached him, apologizing if he'd embarrassed them, or made them feel uncomfortable, or had offended them in any way when he asked them to move. This man has a prominent speech impediment and he is obviously uncomfortable and awkward when he needs to speak to people, giving an impression of shyness and insecurity.
It is not easy to talk to that particular group of boys, but one can assume his need for sleep overcame his usual lack of assertiveness. Yet in approaching the one of the boys later (on whom one resident called security because he thought the boy might be a terrorist - just to give you an idea how the kid looks), it could only have been from a sincere desire to see a fellow Jew as of equal worth to himself, regardless of the external appearance.
This Chassidish man was willing to brave his personal discomfort and risk being mocked for his fumbling speech just to treat this problematic teenager with dignity and consideration - when it was the teenager who'd been in the wrong!
* * *
A very Yerushalmi-looking Chassidish man (with the pants hem tucked into white socks at the knee, etc.) is makpid to always greet his non-chareidi-looking teenage neighbor (the one who was mistaken for a terrorist) and speak to him in the Hebrew-Arabic slang that is popular among that boy's peers. The Yerushalmi man isn't doing it to seem "cool" or something, but merely to show the boy that he is willing to meet him more than halfway and communicate to him in his language, even though according to this man's group, Yiddish is the preferred language for idealistic reasons.
* * *
In one chareidi building I lived in, it happened a couple of times that one or two of the apartments unexpectedly experienced expensive malfunctions that only affected that particular apartment and were not the responsibility or fault of the Building Committee or the other residents of the building.
Yet as a whole, the other families all decided to chip in to help pay for that apartment's repair because they felt that otherwise, it was too much of an expense for that family and the malfunction was to dysfunctional to live with without repair. And just for knowing, these were not families that could afford extra expenses themselves.
Yet their innate compassion compelled them to pay for repairs, anyway - and to do so more than once.
(See Part I or Part III)
May our collective merits greatly sweeten the coming Geula.