The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 9 October 2010 / 30 Tishri 5771

The Reward of Return

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
The wife of a young Torah scholar in the northern Israel town of Rachasim decided to open a nursery in order to help support her growing family. Since the nursery would be located in their ground-level apartment and adjacent yard, they needed the approval of all the other residents of their apartment building.

Sympathetic to the couple's financial struggles, all the neighbors gave their written consent. Just before the nursery was to open one of the neighbors withdrew his consent. The noise from the nursery, he claimed, might be detrimental to his wife who suffered from high blood pressure. To aggravate the situation he had three sons who had strayed from being observant and he was afraid that his efforts to bring them back would be harmed by their seeing their mother suffer because of observant Jews.

The shocked young husband went to a local rabbi who informed him that since the reluctant neighbor had given his consent it constituted a vow on which he could not renege. Upon hearing this ruling the neighbor insisted on personally speaking to the rabbi who repeated to him that he must stick to his consent. "But," added the rabbi as he held out a bottle of wine, "if you allow the nursery to function you will merit to pour wine from this bottle at the weddings of your three sons who will have returned to the fold!"

The consent was renewed, the nursery opened, and there were soon three weddings of three returned sons.

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