For weeks the tmimim Zalman Dubinsky and Nisson Friedman, in Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan Chabad LA, would go into a furniture store and drop off a ‘L’chaim’ newsletter by the elderly man, in his mid-to-late eighties, by the desk.
“The man you’re looking for is not here,” he said every week. “I’ll give it to the owner,” he said each week, making sure to show that he himself wouldn’t read it.
The best way to get to a Jew’s heart is through his stomach.
After dropping off donuts on Chanukah, dried fruits on Tu B’Shvat, and Shalach Manos on Purim, he finally started to smile at the Bochurim. Eventually he admitted to actually reading the L’Chaims.
After several months, in middle of meeting with other people on their route, they happened to see him passing by the window (which in itself is Hashgacha Protis – they had forgotten about him and this was the first time they saw him as much as leave his chair). Working up the courage to approach him, they finally decided to offer him to put on Teffilin.
It seemed he didn’t recognize at all what the tefillin were, but amazingly he agreed. As his Teffilin were coming off they mentioned that this was his bar mitzvah.
He thought for a second, and then started to tear up and Bill (Velvel) then began to tell them, “I was learning for my bar mitzvah in Berlin, Germany with three other boys in shul, when two German soldiers stormed in and desecrated the Sefer Torahs and took away everything, that was the end of my bar mitzvah.”
He paused and said, “Now we made up for it.”
This story just comes to show, no matter how cold and disinterested a person may seem to be, underneath he may have feelings about it – all it takes is the right moment and approach to take a man from adamant refusal and disinterest to a tear-filled bar mitzvah – at age 86.