Weekly Chasidic Story #1004 (s5777-22
/ 1 Adar 5777)
Descent for the Sake of Ascent
Rabbi Yitzchak-Dovid Grossman received the Israel Prize for 'lifetime
special contribution to society and the State' a week before he was to fly to
Connection: Weekly Reading of Trumah -- the
beginning is all about donations
Descent for the Sake of Ascent
by Yerachmiel Tilles
In 2004 Rabbi Yitzchak-Dovid Grossman received the Israel
Prize for 'lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the
The week after, he was scheduled to fly to the USA for yet another fundraising
expedition in support of his Migdal Ohr institutions. When he reached Ben Gurion
international airport, he wasn't feeling well. El Al, the Israel airline, offered
to upgrade his ticket to first class, assuring him that he had enough Frequent
Flyer points that it wouldn't cost him a single shekel.
Rabbi Grossman struggled with the idea. In all his many dozens of flights abroad
he had never flown first class--what would his benefactors think if the money
they gave him for his worthy causes was used to purchase such expensive tickets?
But because of his health and the fact that it was "free," he decided
to do it this one time.
The row of first class contains only six seats --- 2-2-2 instead of 3-5-3 ---
wide and plush. The Rabbi was seated in the first set, with an empty seat next
to him. In the middle pair was sitting an elderly American couple, clearly not
Jewish. Suddenly Rabbi Grossman was seized with an impulse to do something he
had never done on an airplane. He stood up, walked over to them and introduced
I am Rabbi Grossman, a rabbi in the Galilee," he said to them in English,
"I have a number of schools and homes for orphans, teenagers at-risk, and
children from broken families and violent homes. Perhaps you would like to see
a video of them?"
Surprised, they agreed. How could they refuse the holy-looking rabbi.
Rabbi Grossman had noticed immediately that the man was quite enormous; he
fit in his wide first-class seat only with difficulty. So he reached across
the man to lower the tray of the woman's seat instead, placing upon it his DVD
player and giving each of them one of the ear buds. The video ran for about
7 minutes. They seemed interested. When it finished he again reached across
to take back his machine. In doing so he inadvertently leaned upon the arm of
the man's seat.
What he didn't realize was that in the arm of a first class seat is a button
that slides the seat down to be 180* flat, for a bed, and he had accidently
pressed it. BOOM!
Aided by the man's weight, the seat accelerated into horizontal position, slamming
the man flat on his back. Rabbi Grossman didn't know what to do. He was so embarrassed
he couldn't think clearly. He just wanted to crawl into a hole and pull the
lid over himself.
He mumbled one apology after another-"Excuse me, excuse me! Forgive me,
forgive me!"--but it felt silly and ineffective. In his confusion, for
some reason that he can't understand even till this day, he ceased speaking,
bent down, and planted a kiss on the prone man's forehead. Then he quickly pressed
the button to restore the astonished man to sitting position and darted back
to his seat.
For several minutes he sat there unmoving, berating himself for his clumsiness.
"How could I have done such a thing?" He didn't dare even to turn
his head in the direction of the couple; instead he just kept his eyes closed.
So he was startled when five minutes later he felt a tap on his shoulder. It
was the heavy man whom he had toppled.
[At this point in his recital, Rabbi Grossman paused and his face turned serious.
"I am a Rabbi in Israel. I know it is forbidden to lie and I don't lie.
What I am about to tell you may sound unbelievable or even absurd, but I assure
you it is absolutely true, without any exaggeration."]
"Rabbi, I am Reverend John Hagee from San Antonio, Texas," the man
addressed me and offered his hand for a shake.
He continued. "I am a good friend of Israel. In fact, I am the founder
and head of 'Christians United for Israel.' I have made many trips there and
have met personally with every prime minister since Begin.
"This time I came prepared to give a very large donation in the name of
my organization, designated for a program that provides a warm environment for
Jewish children in need. 'Bibi' is my good friend and so are many other people
in the highest echelon of the government, but I was not happy with any of the
existing venues they offered me, so I held back the money.
"Then I made a vow. I prayed to G-d that He send me a sign for who to
give the money to. What was the sign? I will tell you. And my wife will confirm
this; you can ask her.
"I said, 'If a person presents me with a program for such children and
kisses me on the forehead, he is the one to whom we will give this contribution!"
And he did. Right there on the airplane. Very generous and, for the rabbi,
perfectly timed. Rabbi Grossman was struggling to build a large housing complex
for teenaged girls. He had signed a contract and paid the initial installments,
but hadn't the slightest idea how he would be able to finish paying for it.
The six-figure check that Mr. Hagee wrote enabled him to complete the project.
Rabbi Grossman was stunned. What were the chances that he would find himself
in a situation that he, a chasidic Jew and a rabbi, would feel compelled to
kiss a Christian evangelist pastor whose television broadcasts are watched by
millions? Add in the first-time first-class ticket, being seated next to the
couple, the inexplicable urge to show them the video, accidently knocking down
a multi-millionaire-the odds must be many trillions to one.
He smiled. When G-d wants something good to happen, it will certainly happen.
Source: Translated and transcribed from the six-minute
video sent to me by my son Yehuda of Rabbi Grossman telling this story (in Hebrew)
to an entranced audience.
[IF you understand spoken Hebrew and you send me a request via WhatsApp (+972-526-770-137)
or email (address at top), I'll be happy to send you the video. My puny effort
(and even if it were magnificent) cannot do justice to hearing and seeing Rabbi
Grossman's live presentation.]
Connection: Weekly Reading of Trumah - charitable
(Would also be great for the weekly reading of Chaye Sara - Eliezer's prayer
for a divine portent.)
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, chief rabbi of Migdal Ha'Emek since 1969
at age 23, is a sixth generation Jerusalemite. He is a member of the Chief Rabbinate
Council and a recipient of the Israel Prize and many other prestigious government
awards for his successful efforts to bridge the gap between the religious and
secular populations in Israel (thus his nickname from 40 years ago, the Disco
Rabbi). His Migdal Ohr educational institutions and charitable organizations
in Migdal Emek service thousands of underprivileged and at-risk children and
Translator's note (mostly from Wiki):
Rev. John Charles Hagee is the President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which
telecasts his national radio and television broadcasts on ten television networks
to more than 150 million households in the USA, and on networks around the globe.
He is also the author of over 20 books. As the national chairman of 'Christians
United for Israel,' he has been to Israel more than two dozen times. His organization
has given several million dollars to bring Jews from the former Soviet Union
to Israel, as well as millions to support Jewish orphanages and other worthy
causes for the Jewish people in Israel and around the globe.
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor
of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories
to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells
them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.
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(Under the Full Moon" vol 2 - holiday stories)
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"Saturday Night, Full Moon",
is also available for purchase on
Important notice: Due
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until November --
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