Yair Eitan’s father ran a produce distribution business in Northern Israel. When Yair was old enough, he began driving the delivery truck. One of his regular deliveries was at Yeshivah Lev V’Nefesh, whose student body was primarily comprised of baalei teshuvah. Yair’s parents had carefully shielded him from his religion; his upbringing was strictly secular.
The joy and excitement Yair saw within the yeshivah walls aroused his curiosity. He allowed himself to be drawn into conversation with a few yeshivah students. On his third trip there, Yair was already sitting down for a few minutes to sample Torah study. When Yair finally told his parents what he had discovered in the yeshivah, his father became enraged.
"No son of mine is going to become a backward, bearded chareidi! You are no longer to deliver to that route and you are forbidden to visit that yeshivah, or any other yeshivah, ever again!"
Yair knew that one must obey one’s father, except when a parent explicitly commands a child to disobey the Torah. He continued to clandestinely visit the yeshivah. But his father found out, and he reacted violently. Yair, however, was determined. He inquired as to other available yeshivos, left a note wishing his parents well, and left without revealing his destination.
His father searched for him and forced him to return home. Not only that, he blamed the Rosh Yeshivah of Lev V’Nefesh and filed charges against him of brainwashing his 18-year-old son and of engineering his flight from home. The trial aroused great interest, and the trial date found a packed courtroom eagerly awaiting to hear the proceedings. Yair’s testimony did not help the prosecution at all. Yair insisted that he had not been coerced to attend the yeshivah; it was of his own volition.
While Yair was recounting his story, the judge presiding over the case, an elderly man, seemed a bit distracted. He would intermittently take his eyes off the speaker to gaze intently at Yair’s father. When Yair left the witness stand, the judge announced, "I would like Mr. Eitan to step forward."
Yair’s father was surprised as he stepped up to the witness stand. The judge asked if he was of Eastern European descent, if his name back in Europe was perhaps "Stark". Mr. Eitan was clearly taken aback, and he stammered that the judge was indeed correct. "And are you originally from Pinsk?" asked the judge. Mr. Eitan nodded meekly.
The judge continued, "I remember you well. You come from one of the finest homes of pre-War Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways. When you publicly desecrated the Shabbos for the first time, your father aged overnight and seemed to be constantly in mourning. Your mother would shed a river of tears every Friday night when she lit the candles. I often wondered what became of all her tears. I’m not the most religious person, but I know that there is a G-d who runs this world, and I could not understand how the tears of so righteous a woman could be ignored in Heaven.
"Today my question has been answered. I see that her tears were not shed in vain. Today, almost 50 years later, her grandson has returned to the ways of his ancestors. Mr. Eitan, I’m sure you recall that on more than one occasion, friends of your parents pleaded with you that for your parents’ sake you should at least refrain from public transgression. As I recall, your response was, ‘I’m now eighteen and I make my own decisions. I can live my life any way I please.' And you dare to file charges because your eighteen-year-old son has returned to the ways that you abandoned?”