We are all living from moment to moment.
This particular moment was seldom seen by the world of a prison.
It was the first Shabbos afternoon of 5775, and I was in prison, not as an inmate, rather as a visiting Rabbi. Along with many others, my three cousins and I were sent to a prison by Aleph Institute with the mission to bring Yiddishkeit to prison on Rosh Hashono (Shabbos being the inevitable bonus.)
During Rosh Hashono the way we ran things was similar to that of a regular Chabad house. We davened out loud, sang some parts, had different inmates read different parts in English, hosted a meal, and more or less it went really well.
Shabbos came and the inmates snapped into Shabbos mode as if they had been regulars for years! We didn’t know at the time, but they really had been regulars for years! Aleph Institute had arranged that every weekend there should be Shabbos run by the inmates in prison!
When services were finished we made Kiddish on challah and grape juice for the inmates. This they were especially grateful for. During our “Kiddish” we had usually chatted about different subjects in Yiddishkeit or told them Chassidishe Meise’s. This time was different. I looked around the room and asked if anyone had anything they would like to share. There was silence…for A Moment.
One inmate finally spoke up and said he had something we might want to hear. What he said next completely and utterly filled room, culminating in the most captivating moment. It’s hard to explain, but none of us in that room were able to think at all; we were all just feeling.
“My brother lives in Kiryat Shmuel with his family, and many years ago he had a son, who from a year old was unable to speak. The family went to all the top doctors and specialists, but to their dismay all had failed. Needless to say the family was devastated, I was devastated. One day my brother’s wife was shopping in a Kosher supermarket, and got caught up in a conversation with a Chabad lady. After relaying her situation to the Chabad lady, she of course suggested writing to The Rebbe.”
At this very moment he burst into tears, an uncontrollable broken cry, and he was not able to continue for about five minutes. Everyone was speechless, motionless, and felt true empathy. Once he regained his composure the rest of the story was given over in weeping.
“With nothing to lose she decided to give it a try. She wrote a letter to the Rebbe. To her pleasant surprise The Rebbe actually answered her, and the Rebbe wrote that she should check her mezuzah. After checking the mezuzah the Sofer said the mezuzah was an exceptional one besides for one mistake, in the word vidibartoh! Soon after the boy began to speak and hasn’t kept quiet since, not even for A MOMENT.”
He concluded the story, and we thanked him profusely for the gem he had given us.
It was the first Motzoei Shabbos of 5775, and I had A Moment to share.