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Story of a Long, Awaited Return

Published on Wednesday January 9th, 2019

The following story is a true story that was told to us by witnesses of the story.

Light knocks were heard at the door of Rav Neustadt, Rav of the community of Kahal Chassidim in Neve Yaakov (a suburb of Jerusalem). A woman from the neighbourhood had come to expose her great distress, and she was desperately waiting to hear the Rav's words of wisdom.

"Today, two years ago," the woman began…"Tonight, it will be two years, since the first night my Rubi did not come home, choosing to live his life elsewhere." That was what she managed to say, before bursting into tears. After having calmed down a little, she managed to resume the thread of her story. "Rubi was an excellent child, the pride of our house. I do not know what happened to him, but at one point, he left the school in which he was studying, and he looked for other occupations ...

The atmosphere at home became painful and tense as we observed our child wither in front of our eyes, and we were unable to help... ", she said, wiping away a tear. "And then, as he continued going along his badly chosen path for several months, that evening arrived, the evening of the 17th of Tevet 5762. It was cold, and wintery outside, and we were frozen inside... because it was the night that Rubi did not come home. We waited for him, we stayed up as we tried to understand what was happening. He used to come back late, but this time he only phoned us about two o'clock in the morning, telling us not to worry about him. He told us that everything was fine with him, that he was not coming home and a moment later he hung up.

I tried to redial the same number, but it was a public phone booth. From that day on, Rubi cut all ties with us. He did not come to visit us, he did not want to hear about his family, nor to recognize us. From time to time, we received news of his travels around the world or regards from someone who had seen him somewhere in a foreign and distant city, but he did not want to have any contact with us. He was running away from us.

The Power of Feelings

It's heartbreaking'', said the mother, as she burst into tears again, "I cannot stop thinking about him, and wondering what is happening to him, where he is, what he is doing and who cares about him. It's as if someone has torn a piece of my heart and sent it to the unknown...Shame no longer interests me, what the neighbours will say is no longer a subject of conversation. Only one subject worries me, is our Rubi, a hippie who spun us between the fingers, and exchanged a well of living water for a life of ignorance, of stench and dirt. I cannot bear this misfortune, what can I do?" The Rav and the Rebbetzin listened attentively to the mother's words, a terrible pain escaping from each of her words and tears.

They offered her a drink and calmed her down, and suggested that she sit comfortably on the couch and relax. A few minutes later, the Rebbetzin made her a surprising proposal: "The power of our feelings is very great, and we do not know the strength that we have. For the moment, your feelings about him are too much to bear, it hurts so much, he has moved away from his parents who gave birth to him, and your feelings towards him waver between anger and disappointment, constant distress and frustration. Let's try to change this... ", declared the Rebbetzin, and began to explain her revolutionary idea:

"I suggest, that starting today, every day, you find a quiet hour in the evening, and you write him a moving letter where you compliment him on the positive aspects of his personality. It is true that it is not easy, because the image of him that comes to your mind highlights his negative sides, which hurts. It's a negative feeling that is forming, but we can try to remember childhood experiences that create nostalgia, or a quality that he has not lost... "

The woman looked at her, surprised, and the Rebbetzin continued: "And then, just write him a letter. For example: "My dear Rubi, you are far away, but I know that at the bottom of your heart you have a spark of nostalgia for your parents, in the home where you grew up. You were a boy who loved your family so much and who loved others, and there is no doubt that this feeling has not completely left you...", or: "My dear Rubi, I know that you are an obstinate child, but I remember all the times that this obstinacy led you to excellence and amazing performances. Rubi, you have a blessed power of obstinacy, engraved in your blood, and certainly, all that you aspire to have, you manage to get it! "

The woman's eyes widened in surprise. She had so much trouble believing that she could express her positive feelings towards Rubi, but the Rebbetzin gave her explanations, quoted abundant examples, illustrated how to find positive points in Rubi, and enjoined her to put them in writing. "Write him a letter every day. Compliment him, address him warmly, show him, love, as a mother to her beloved son. Of course, he will neither read nor receive the letters, but you-you will read them every day; read them several times... "

The first day, she bit the pen, and barely managed to write three words: "My dear Rubi. Painful feelings overwhelmed her, she had trouble writing… she could not write more than that, and she only read those three words over and over again. A few days later, she added an authentic compliment: "My dear Rubi! I'm sure you're still smiling at your friends! She signed her name and read the letter several times...

In a large brown envelope, the letters were accumulating one after the other, a treasure of papers overwhelming the heart and the mind, the heart of a loving mother, who was waiting for her beloved son. The first letters were short, but little by little they grew longer and longer... Her letters did not relieve her, on the contrary, they increased her feelings of pain and sadness. But, in spite of everything, they turned disappointment into nostalgia, frustration into desire, and anger into ardent desire to see him again ... This lasted several months, from the middle of the month of Tevet to the month of Nissan. Once the month of Nissan began, with the busy preparations for the Pesach holiday, the mother continued to write a daily letter of compliments to Rubi, even at the price of precious minutes of preparations for the festival...

Eleven chilling words: "Mom? It's Rubi. Can I come home for Pesach?"

It was the evening of Bedikat Chametz. After many preparations and a thorough clean-up, the search for Chametz was completed and preparations for the Seder evening began. That evening, the mother also sat down to write a letter, where she complimented Rubi on his sense of aesthetics, which had helped her during her preparations for Pesach. That night, the phone broke the silence. " Mom? It's Rubi. Can I come home for Pesach?'' He spoke simply, briefly, those few words.

It took her time to recover from the shock, she even had trouble recognizing his voice. She replied, "Yes, with pleasure," as if she was expecting this request at any moment. It was only when she heard the sound of the phone put down that she realized that the conversation was over, and her shock and stupefaction turned into nervous waiting... Forty minutes later, she heard knocking at the door. A young man stood in front of the door, dressed a little carelessly, smiling a little embarrassed, and in the corner of his eyes, tears of regret and nostalgia. He entered the house, opened the bag he was carrying on his shoulders, and announced: "After visiting the whole world, I returned to the best place in the world!"

The mother stood at the end of the living room, refusing to believe what she saw in front of her. She blushed and turned pale, her heart pounding. The atmosphere was a little tense, but every minute that went by freed the stress, calmed the tension, turned the embarrassment into a great nostalgia between the mother and her beloved son, between a son who had gone away and a mother who was languishing, wiping tears of happiness and joy, and did not know what to do with herself ... "What, is it true?'' Was the brief response she managed to utter, refusing to believe in the latest developments before her eyes... "Yes, that's right. It's absolutely true!'' Replied the young man, whose tears ran down his cheeks, mingling with his mother's tears.

They sat for many hours on the couch and spoke... He revealed what he had gone through, all that had happened, and that he recognized his mistakes and asked for forgiveness from the bottom of his heart. Finally, he revealed the secret that had brought him home:

"I do not know why, but in the last few months, in the middle of winter, I started to feel that no one in the world loved me as my mother and that I love our home more than anything in the world. I suddenly started to yearn for my mother, and I suddenly felt that I was forced to go home, to get back to her ... I thought that it was a passing feeling that would go, but that feeling grew stronger each day. These last weeks, my heart was bursting. I felt that I could not stand it anymore ... I felt that no one in the world loves me, that I am not wanted anywhere, that nobody wants me, except my mother, of course… "

"It was so difficult for me," said Rubi, wiping away his tears, but finally, I found the courage, and I took the step. I phoned and I arrived because no one loves me more than my mom, I'm sure!"

The night of Bedikat Chametz turned into the morning of Erev Pesach. A new morning began, the wind caused the curtains in the living room to gently sway. The mother brought the mass of letters that she had written and revealed the secret of the magnet... "These last months, my dear Rubi, I decided to really miss you. I put aside all the pain and disappointment, and I began to see only the good in you, to think only of your positive points, to compliment you with all my heart and as much as possible. You were not there to listen, but your soul heard, your heartfelt it ... and now you're here! Because these letters connected you and me and brought you home. For the bond of hearts is stronger than any physical bond, than any other communication. When I started writing how good you are, how special you are, you started to think the same thing, and that's what brought you home ... "

What infinite pain, an ocean of sadness, disappointment and frustration, accompanies the feelings that are formed between parents and children, between teachers and students, between partners of a business, and between friends. It sometimes happens that the interpersonal relationships in the family are eroding, between brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews, neighbours and close friends... The heart cries, implores and howls. Relationships fall apart, links are broken, conflicts escalate, and we do not see a way out of the problem. What do we do? How should we stop this deterioration, and change the situation?

We have the ability to change this. It depends only on us. Let us transform our minds and our thoughts. Let us see good, let us focus on it, hold on to it, and only to it. Yes, even our neighbour, who sometimes annoys us, let us focus on the effort he puts into ​​respecting his parents and inviting his elderly parents every Shabbat. Even the one who sits at the end of the table at the synagogue, with whom we would like to start a relationship, but without success, let us see how pleasant and fluid his prayer is...

And the pupil sitting at the back of the classroom, who bothers everyone… did we notice that he gave the ball to another child? It may be worthwhile to say it out loud, maybe it's worth writing it down on a piece of paper and reading it before you go to sleep? And the girl whose academic results are deteriorating, and the boy who prefers to play rather than attend class – let us try to focus on the fact that they are smiling and making others happy, and how kind they are. And this friend who has been looking down on me in recent weeks, have I forgotten that she is extremely talented?

Let us see the good, think positive, focus on the good that is in others, there is so much good in other people. Let us connect to this good! Let us convince ourselves how good others are, how endowed they are with a special and prodigious soul! The consequence is clear: from the moment we convince ourselves that so-and-so is really good, that he has a positive and luminous personality, it is clear that these ideas will come to him, it goes without saying that his heart will feel the change at the same moment, and will immediately feel the positive result.  

Competition of Positive Words

In a large family where the joy of life reigned, a long and sad conflict ensued between the siblings. The atmosphere at home became tense and unpleasant, and the parents were distraught. They then addressed one of the Rabbanim of the generation and asked him what should be done. How could they reinstall love and harmony between the siblings? The Rav's advice was revolutionary: "During the week, each parent and child will look for good points and good behaviour in the other members of the household, and write them on a paper in order to remember them. At the time of the Shabbat meal, each member of the family will rise in turn and say what he found, what positive points he has noticed in the conduct of his brothers and sisters... ". The first week, this ceremony was somewhat strange, but over time it became natural... Children were competing to find out who would find more positive points, who would notice a less obvious quality ...

The competition for compliments became more and more sophisticated and eliminated the unpleasant atmosphere. Hate and disagreements made room for truth, peace and love. If you see a child in the street who follows his brother and seeks to see him perform a good deed, know that this child belongs to this family, who has adopted such a healthy habit.

Now you should try it. It is highly recommended. It always works!

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