Boaz (not his real name) was an embodiment of the Israeli
dream. He was young, handsome, intelligent, athletic, uninhibited
and a successful small businessman in Hollywood. By 1990 he had 'made
it' in L.A.! Money! Fun! Action! Excitement! The world was his for
the taking, and he took as much as he could.
But most of all he loved riding his powerful motorcycle, a Yamaha-FZR.
Speeding down a desert highway over 100 mph was what made him really
happy. That's where he wanted to be forever - on the cutting edge
Of course in true Israeli tradition he kept as far from G-d, and
certainly from Judaism, as possible. "If" he often quipped,
"I thought that religion was like Marx said, the opiate of the
masses, I might have tried some." But it was even more meaningless
to him than that.
Until his accident.
One beautiful summer day on a lonely highway somewhere in Nevada
he hit about 130 when, suddenly, from nowhere, a huge semi-trailer
truck appeared in front of him. It took him a second to realize that
it wasn't a mirage but then it was too late. He smashed into the front
of it and flew into oblivion. When the police arrived they had to
search for a while till they found his broken body several hundred
feet from the scene of the accident. He was still alive, but they
had seen a lot of accidents and they were sure he wasn't going to
"This one is for sure a goner" was the last thing he heard
as they pushed him into the ambulance and closed the doors. He thought
to himself, "I don't want to die; I'll do what You want. Please,
G-d, Save me!" And everything went black.
When he woke up it was dark. He couldn't move. Was he dead? No, he
was alive. Why couldn't he see or move? Then suddenly he realized
what happened; "My G-d - I'm buried alive! They buried me!"
He was sweating; it was getting hard to breathe. He tried to get
up but he couldn't, he couldn't move. He started to scream, "Please
G-d, help me! I'm sorry! G-d, help me!"
Suddenly he was blinded; it was so bright! The florescent light flickered
on. He was in a hospital.
"Doctor! Doctor! Come fast! He's conscious!"
He had been in a coma for over a month. He couldn't move because
he was in a body cast from head to toe; almost all his bones had been
broken. Even the policemen that were at the accident had never had
seen anything like it, it was clearly a miracle that he was still
alive. But the miracles didn't stop.
It took a lot of physical therapy and a lot of prayer but in one
year he was actually back on his feet, completely recovered! He went
back to work, to a new business, and bought a new bike. And completely
forgot his vow! In less than a year, he was back on his feet and back
to his old lifestyle as if nothing had happened.
As his new business became more successful, he was finally able to
buy a house. The day he moved in he went out to his new backyard and
discovered, to his surprise, a trampoline on the adjoining property.
Boaz loved trampolines. He couldn't resist. He dropped what he was
doing, hopped over a bush, climbed on the trampoline and began to
bounce. He jumped and jumped and then tried a few flips.
"Pretty good!" a voice called out from his rear, startling
He turned around. A tall well-built man, apparently his next-door
neighbor and the owner of the trampoline, was smiling at him. "Do
you have the nerve to try it on a trapeze?" he asked, a tight
smile playing across his face.
Of course, no young brash Israeli ever backed away from a challenge.
He tried it, succeeded, and went on to the next stage. It turned out
his new neighbor was a former leading stuntman and was still influential
in the business as the manager of the union. He secured a position
for Boaz as a stuntman on the famous television series, "American
Time passed. With the manager's help, Boaz landed many stuntman gigs
in commercial television. He told Boaz that he had the potential to
be promoted to some really big-time jobs with opportunities to do
serious acting. If it worked out he could be earning more than a million
dollars a year! Things were looking up.
There was only one drawback; the manager was a missionary.
In truth, Boaz could have cared less. Religion meant nothing to him.
When has new patron asked him if he was Jewish, his answer was, "No,
He read the books the manager kept giving him because he wanted to
keep on good terms. He even went to a couple of meetings with him.
Everyone there was friendly, the lectures were nice, but he was interested
in having a good time.
And it would have remained that way if his manager would have left
him alone, but he didn't. He kept shaking up Boaz's indifference with
strange interpretations of biblical verses and ideas about sin and
salvation that he had never thought about.
He didn't know what to do. On one hand he wanted the big bucks and
really couldn't find anything wrong with the manager's line of thought.
But on the other hand - maybe it was just his Israeli egotism or innate
Jewish stiffneckedness - for the first time in his life Boaz felt
that he was a Jew and someone was trying to take it away from him.
The problem was that he didn't know enough about the Torah to argue
This continued for several months. As his twenty-fifth birthday approached,
a friend asked what he could buy for him as a present. Perhaps a gaudy
new motorcycle helmet, or a fancy set of tools?
Boaz told him that the only present he desired was a Tanach.
His friend, also a secular Israeli, thought he was crazy and tried
to dissuade him. But when he finally accepted that Boaz was serious
and understood the reason why he needed to know more about the Torah,
he provided him with the name of a "primitive" Sephardic
Rabbi with whom he was acquainted. He begrudgingly admitted that the
man was pleasant to talk to.
It wasn't long before Boaz was sitting in the Rabbi's house pouring
his heart out about his missionary friend. It was the first of many
Now he was ready. The next time the manager brought up the subject,
Boaz wrote down all the quotations, thinking he would defeat them.
But the more he read from the Torah and the Prophets in order to prepare
his rebuttals, the more he realized that he himself knew nothing about
He started thinking about buying a pair of tefilin and putting
them on regularly instead of just whenever he ran into an outgoing
Chabadnik, but somehow he never followed through.
One of Boaz's new acquaintances advised him to write to the Lubavitcher
Rebbe for advice and a blessing.
"A blessing?" asked Boaz incredulously, but he wrote anyway.
In two weeks he received a reply. The Rebbe told him to concentrate
only on strengthening his own Judaism through learning the Torah and
doing the commandments, and to forget the debates.
Boaz decided to return to Israel, and was able to accomplish this
in 1991. Finding no spiritual balm in the suburbs of Haifa where his
parents lived, he was influenced by the local Chabad rabbi to visit
the yeshiva in Safed "for a few days." He did so, and stayed
for a few years.
Today Boaz lives in Safed with his wife and seven children, where
he is a valued member of the chassidic community.
[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Rabbi Tuvia
Bolton in his weekly email for Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim: http://www.ohrtmimim.org/torah;
email@example.com, and supplemented with corrections and additions
as heard from his neighbor, 'Boaz' himself.]