As a certified conspiracy theorist of the frum community, I generally doubt the validity of inspirational stories, especially the ones that seem to be designed to make people frum. Back in the day, before the Charedi world decided it could make money through their own “Chicken soup for the soul” style stuff, one used to hear the same old “he missed the flight and the plane crashed” kind of stories that were meant to evoke this “Hashem is awesome, gam zu latova attitude” that was all the rage in the 90’s. Before I started to use my brain, stories about people missing their plane were all it took to make me unwittingly follow in the ways of Hashem. I never thought to ask about the other folks who happened to die in the plane crash and I never thought to ask the selfish, classic Jewish question of whether or not any of them were frum.
I believed these stories fully until I started to read those frummy books that are found on Cherry book cases in every major frum community. Those books like “visions of greatness” and the Artscroll gadol biographies that seemed to rehash the same stories over and over. I’ve heard the one about the Rebbe/Rabbi who had a first class train ticket, but slept under the bench a million times. I heard the one about the secular girl looking for her long lost relatives and finding out about her great yichus and marrying the son of the guy who saved her mother in the Holocaust. If I wanted to I could probably relate all of the rehashed stories that seem to fill up the pages of inspirational frum books the world over. I never heard any of these stories for myself until this past shabbos.
There was a guest eating at the same place we were eating and he told a wonderful story that will probably be stolen from this blog and published in the next Visions of Greatness book. This fellow told us that when he was in Israel almost 40 years ago, him and his friends decided to hit up a shul. He didn’t know from separate seating, so they went to the balcony so they could see the Torah reading. Flip to the other story that ties it all together, when he was a kid he was very sick and his grandmother basically donated a whole bunch of money to some Rabbi collecting money to have a sefer Torah written. While he was watching the Torah reading he started having these spiritual stirrings and thoughts about how they probably did it the same way thousands of years ago. Turns out the Torah that was being read, was none other than the Torah his grandmother had donated in order to save his life.
No, I don’t tell it as inspirational as those who steal it for their books will, but the point is that I finally heard one of these stories first hand so I know some of them may actually be true.
Find out more on 4torah.com