Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tiny Spark

Yesterday, I had a meeting with someone at work. Her name sounded pretty Jewish but from the way she looked there was no way to tell. Pants and a short-sleeved t-shirt, long brown hair with light yellow streaks (obviously dyed), I couldn't know for sure.

When there was a technical glitch on the computer and I couldn't continue with our meeting, we instead started to talk. She was very friendly and open about her life and I asked her some basic questions about herself.

It was interesting that when I asked her which school she went to, she immediately chose to identify herself with the Jewish one she had gone to up until 5th grade. Although after that she went to public school and then continued on to college, she chose to tell me that she went to a Jewish school. It was geared to Russian girls who came from non-religious homes, just like she did.

It was taking a while for the technician to fix the technical problem on the computer but let me tell you, everything has a reason. Hashem set the stage, for her to come with more than enough time for the meeting before going on to her next stop and for the computer to act up (it barely EVER happens) so that we could talk about Judaism (for close to an HOUR)!

It was amazing to see that when I started telling her little things about torah, I was able to see the interest on her face, like she was listening with her heart and so badly wanted to hear more.

I asked her if she keeps kosher and she said no. I asked her if she keeps shabbos and she said no. But her family does do something each shabbos. Her mother doesn't light candles on Friday night and her father surely doesn't go to shul. The extent of their shabbos is a family meal together every Friday night. No kiddush, no zemiros, no divrei torah. Just a meal with everyone together on Friday night. I told her that what her family does is really big in Hashem's eyes because they are remembering every single week that shabbos has come. And that is what is important.

I told her that people think Judaism is all or nothing - but that's not true. Hashem doesn't expect us to do everything in one day. A person shouldn't think that if they can't keep the whole shabbos they shouldn't even try. I told her how valuable every act she does is in shamayim, how Hashem wants to see that a person remembers that it's shabbos, even if that means not answering the phone the second it rings, waiting a minute to respond to that text message or not turning the TV on for an extra five or ten minutes. Because that is showing Hashem that she remembers that today is shabbos.

It was so sad to see how far removed she is. But it was heartwarming to see how much she wanted to learn and know and how that pintele yid, that teeny flame, is alive in her heart.

I told her a lot of things while the computer technician did his work. I could see that she really wanted to hear more. Her neshama was starving for inspiration and I could see it on her face. My job is not to make her frum. All I wanted to do was give her a positive Jewish experience.

She told me that she would want to learn more about Judaism, she's just been really busy and doesn't have time. When she has children, she would want them to go to a Jewish school so they can learn more about what it means to be a Jew and then hopefully she can learn from them. She is quite a few years older than me but I told her it is not too late to learn, it is never too late to learn more.

I am hoping to follow up with her somewhat over the next few phone conversations with her but it's a hard balance. I have to be able to mix (or not) business with pleasure and must be careful not to cross the line.

What inspired me most about our meeting was that deep connection that every Jewish soul has and nothing can take that away. Speaking to someone who has very little connection to the Jewish nation but yet when she met me she immediately identified herself with the Jewish school she went to and showed such a strong interest in hearing more about yiddishkeit showed me that it never hurts to open up a conversation with someone about Judaism. You never know how they'll react and how years down the line they may remember the conversation they had with you.

May Hashem bring back all the lost souls so they can see with their own eyes and feel in their hearts how lucky we all are to be born into the Jewish nation!

There is so much more in my heart and so many thoughts from that meeting that are hard to put down...but let's hope that one day she will learn more, grow more and realize that she has a treasure in her backyard...and begin to live with it!


  1. What amazes me most about this whole hashgacha pratis is that, with the way everything ended up working out, she didn't only have time to talk...but she had time to talk to you. I could have been in the exact same situation, and there's no way I could have accomplished nearly as much as you did. Hashem knew who to put there!

  2. Woah! Amazing story!!! I love how you wrote about the deep connection every neshama has and the yearning to really want to grow! And how she had that little flame in her heart!!! because its sooo true. For some ppl its not so obvious but its somewhere hidden inside them! YOU NEVER KNOW- MAYBE THAT FLAME WILL GO SO SO HIGH from that little tiny spark that you saw in her. It's amazing how much inner potential and kochos ppl hav inside them that is just waiting to come out of them. All it takes is just believing in a person and respecting them for who they are and for how much they are accomplishing!!! Taking step by step is how you reach your destination, with Hashem's help! and I agree- YOU WERE the perfect psn for this story to happen to!!!:)

  3. MW-aww!! Thanks, that's really sweet of you to say that.

    Smiley:)-Yes, that's so true! That flame can never go out! Let's hope I helped fan the flames somewhat so one day her neshama will truly catch fire!!

    To both of you - it's funny cuz when I came back to my desk and retold the whole story to my coworker, she said the same! She said it's good I was the one who was there because she wouldn't have had the same experience speaking to this woman. Hashem has His ways - and it was meant for me to talk to her so that she can get another little taste of I am blessed with the ability to relate to all kinds of people and talk to them about anything and everything...while adding little tidbits of inspiration to the conversation! It's a gift from Hashem!

    It's still so sad though, when I think about it - she doesn't know anything about Shavuos, the biggest day for us...and to her it's a day like any other...I'll be praying for her at the yom tov candles, that's for sure!

  4. this a a beautiful story to share! I love how you look at life, and how you always seem to find the good in everyone and everything. I am blessed to "know" you. and you are so very right - you never know how a little coversation will change things. My first instance meeting a frum client not too long ago sparked me to be where I am now. :)

  5. Elle-that's a scary thought. That means every religious Jew has a big responsibility to the people around them to make sure they represent who we really are! I'm glad you had a positive experience and it brought you on your journey to where you are today :-)

  6. Wow. Thats an incredible story. Thanks for sharing! It always re-amazes me how every human has such a spark waiting to be turned on to depth and meaning. I was in a self-checkout line at a supermarket on Friday, and it was going really slowly- the machine was not working right- and I was so impressed at the woman ahead of me in line who was taking it all in stride and making jokes and being positive and friendly while I was stressing out internally about making it home with good timing, and then the woman turns to another woman in line and comments on her necklace, asking if its a religios symbol because her father, whos family was from Germany was a religious Catholic, and her mother, whose family was from Russia was Jewish, and they went in their fathers way. Suddently, the whole situation took on a new light. There was a JEW in front of me in line- that was a JEWish neshama in that woman, it was that pintele yid that I was seeing when I saw her impressive patience and positicity. and I wanted to say something, make some sort of good impression or kiddush Hashem, but I didnt know what. And once it was her turn to pay, the receipt machine was giving further problems and she commented that she was on a tight clock and didnt need the receipt anyway to a cashier man who was coming t fix it, all said with a friendly nonchalantness, and I really wanted to compliment her and say how impressed I was with her attitude (alright, I actually really wanted to invite her for a Shabbos meal lol, I had just seen the Project Inspire iProd video and was a bit /too/ inspired lol). But I didnt. We never know what will turn ppl on or off to frumkeit, but like you said Devoiry, its really each of our achrayus to say something, make some sort of kiddush Hashem. Who knows how this woman will change her life in little bits because of the conversation you were brave enough to engage in. What an inspiration.

  7. Tamar-it's hard to gather up the courage to say something to a stranger. I'm sure the awareness of the missed opportunity is also a good thing for you. Hopefully, next time something similar happens to you, you'll be brave enough to say something!
    From what I've seen, many people have a positive reaction to hearing about Judaism if it's introduced in a friendly, non-judgemental way. Not that you are trying to convert the person but you just want to share the beauty of it with them, without trying to make them change their lives around.

    Good luck next time round cuz it can definitely happen again!


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