This past week, a 19 year old boy from Givat Shmuel was chozer b’tshuvah. He grew up in a semi-traditional home, and when he reached the age where one begins to ponder life and its meanings, he decided to check into the religious way of life, which until then struck him as odd and distant. The first place he chose to test was a yeshiva. After his initial impression, he would periodically frequent the place, however throughout this time he still viewed the yeshiva and its bachurim as “˜people from outer space’ to quote him, who learn and learn with no goal or purpose.
After a year, the boy decided that he had enough and stopped coming, eventually forgetting it all. It was time for enlistment, and like all his friends he decided to sign up, but then his conscience started nagging him. On one hand he wanted to enlist for three years as a service for his country, and only then pick up on his search for the truth, and on the other hand he subconsciously knew that after three years in a totally secular place such as the army, the future is not subject to change.
A few days ago he came to me for an open talk, which lasted for 3 hours, during which all the doubts and considerations were laid on the table. Bs’d I was able to convince him that he push off his enlistment for the time being and first start learning in yeshiva. I succeeded in saving him.
I witnessed another success story last week with a boy who basically became religious independently and just needed some prodding. I understood from him that he has a very good friend, who is extremely anti and if the relationship were to continue all our efforts and progress would fall to the way. I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I asked the boy to convince his friend to join us for a talk, with no obligations. The friend came, and in his eyes I could perceive how anti and hateful of religious people he is. In the course of the conversation, his hatred became even more apparent, when he said that he is even ready to burn holy sefarim.
The end of the story: After a long talk this boy joined our ranks, and today this Apikorus wants to learn in yeshiva.
The story is not yet over. One morning, the father of this boy surprised us, the same father who forcefully opposed his actions, and thanked us for all the efforts we’ve invested in the boy over the past two years. He then excitedly began to quote the Chazal that says “There are three partners in man, Hashem, his father and his mother,” adding that for his son there is a fourth partner, the yeshiva! According to him, his son who acquired refined character traits, who radiates happiness and contentment, is a whole new person.
It turns out that this welcomed change is not limited to the boy alone. According to the father, every leil Shabbos for the past half a year, they sit and learn the weekly parsha together, and ever since the father has been able to feel the special taste of Shabbos. The father continued to surprise us with telling us that he began to attend throughout the week shiurim in gemara (!) in his local shul. He does so, he says, in order to enable him to learn gemara with his son, something which strengthens their relationship”¦
Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein adds: At the beginning of this zman we successful enrolled another nine bachurim from the yeshiva, into other famous yeshivos in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim!!!
The following story illustrates the dedication and devotion of the activists to the system, who go beyond the call of duty, in assisting the bachurim and boys.
When one of the activists who works in the medrashios, was bedridden due to a short illness, he was replaced by another avreich, who was already active in the yeshiva, from his goodwill he decided to take upon himself both jobs simultaneously as a volunteer l’sheim shamayim.
It turned that the dedication and devotion, is appreciated by the students, which in turn benefits us. We had a student learning in “Beis Shmaya,“ who we invested tremendous efforts in keeping him in yeshiva, more so because of the parents than because of the boy himself. And before Yom Haatzmaut the boy informed us that he was planning on celebrating at home. We had a hard time convincing him to reconsider his decision, but eventually we succeeded, not by removing his desire to stay at home, but more so because he felt he owed it to us, being that his father did not have the funds to pay us, and we funded his expenses. A 14 year old boy who hears such things, cannot refuse and negate his commitment to us and his counselors who help him, take care of him and gain his trust.
Last Shabbos the boy requested to join us for the Shabbos, explaining to his mother that being that he anyways did not have any school until after Yom Haatzmaut, he would stay with us until Wednesday. Of course, these four days completely changed everything, and are equivalent to at least ten home visits, and b’h this boy is now ours.