During the Nine Days, this son & 2 friends happened upon the owner of a small factory who was burning extraneous twigs and branches, when by doing so, this owner accidentally set his own factory on fire.
The owner quickly brought a bucket to a nearby faucet that released a weak trickle of water, then he threw whatever water he managed onto the fire.
The water merely turned to steam with a hiss, and the fire kept expanding.
My son sought out the fire-fighting apparatus required in any factory. He found a glass box with a hose in it, but no connection to any fire-extinguishing source.
No hand-held fire extinguisher either.
Then my son sought out a water source and found a rusty pump in the bushes. He and his 2 yeshivah friends connected the hose to the pump and assisted the owner in putting out the fire.
At some point, the authorities arrived and my son and his friends left.
Later, a man who knew both the boys and the owner met up with the boys and said that the owner got fined for not having his fire-safety equipment up to date.
“And do you know what a big kiddush Hashem you guys did?” said the man.
No, they didn’t. They just saw an older man struggling with a fire and it never occurred to them NOT to help him.
Forced to Eat Humble Mapai
MaPAI [Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisrael—The Party of Workers of the Land of Israel) was Ben-Gurion’s political party. It was also the party of the old-time kibbutzim, Moshe Sharret, Levi Eshkol, and Golda Meir. It later merged with other Leftist parties to form the present-day Labor party.
Often described as “left of center,” it was basically Communist. Utter disdain of charedim was self-understood in Mapai.
So this die-hard Mapainik was shocked that charedi yeshivah bachurs would help him with such zerizut—especially since the fire had been his fault.
Furthermore, despite him being the older and “wiser” hotshot Mapainik and them being (in his eyes) the backwards & foolish yeshivah bachurs, it was the yeshivah bachurs who succeeded in figuring out the most effective way to put out the fire—in HIS factory.
So they were altruistic too, which also ran against his stereotype of the selfish, self-absorbed charedi Jew.
This is clearly an example of what psychology calls “projection” and what the Gemara describes as “kol hapossel, b’mumo possel”—every person who invalidates another (based on a particular flaw) is actually basing this invalidation on a flaw that he himself possesses too.
So this owner assumed that charedim would hate him too much to help him because HE hates charedim too much to help THEM. (Or so I surmise. I don’t know him at all. But why else was he so flabbergasted by their assistance? I mean, this IS Israel. Most passers-by would help. Naturally.)
The owner wanted their names and to thank them.
Needless to say, the boys weren’t looking to make a kiddush Hashem.
They just responded to the situation with the Torah values (and Gemara-sharpened brains) they’d internalized. It hadn’t occurred to them to think or respond in any other way.
Firing Up an Opening to Teshuvah?
The founders and leaders of Mapai took over the government, the media, and the schools back when this Mapainik was a youngster.
How much of chance did he really stand against their agenda?
But now, Hashem brought him 3 yeshivah bachurs who shocked him with their quick thinking, competency, and compassion.
Hashem could've brought the old Mapainik other helpers. I mean, after all, this IS Israel and most people would help in this situation.
But Hashem davka sent 3 yeshivah bachurs to help this guy.
And he’s good enough to both take note and appreciate their efforts.
This event clearly caused him to think differently (and more positively) about Torah-observant Jews.
Maybe he’ll start thinking differently (and more positively) about the Torah too.
Hashem loves everybody and wants us all to do teshuvah.
And I think the accidental fire was this old Mapainik’s opening to change.
I hope so, anyway.