| Street Smarts |

Captive Audience   

“Af davar lo ya’azor lecha achshav!” he bellowed. “Nothing can help you now!”

I arrived in Israel on a Monday in the beginning of April. I was not visiting family, nor was I sightseeing. In the exciting world of being a rav, I was there on “business.”

The year was 2002, and suicide bombings by Arab terrorists were occurring at an alarming rate. In fact, March 2002 received the infamous designation “Black March.” One hundred and thirty Jews lost their lives in terror attacks that month. The country was in a state of high alert and fear.

But I was in Israel to assist in the giving of a get. The husband had insisted that for him to give the get, I must be present, and therefore I arrived in Israel on April 8 with a return ticket for April 11.

The rabbinical court was located in Tel Aviv. I stayed in Bnei Brak, and for the two days that I was required to appear in the Tel Aviv beis din, I took a taxi back and forth.

On Wednesday, April 10 the get was successfully executed. As I left the beis din after two hectic days of shuttling back and forth, I was looking forward to enjoying my last 24 hours in Eretz Yisrael peacefully in Bnei Brak. I hailed a taxi and gave him the address of the apartment in Bnei Brak where I was staying.

Once I got in, I engaged the driver in light conversation, as I usually do, inquiring how long he has been driving and what hours he works — nothing too personal.

His responses were very terse, and he sounded a bit evasive.


I realized that not everyone is always in the mood of chatting, and I tried to relax and admire the view from the car window. But I was feeling a bit tense; in the few Hebrew words he had spoken, I thought I detected a slight Arabic accent. Stop being paranoid, I told myself. I allowed myself to drift off to sleep.

Suddenly, I heard the voice of the driver. His tone was assertive, an emphatic command.

“Af davar lo ya’azor lecha achshav!” he bellowed. “Nothing can help you now!”

He was yelling at me!

He grabbed for the storage compartment in the armrest between the two front seats. As he struggled to open the compartment, he repeated his terrifying statement: “Nothing will help you now!”

The compartment flipped open, and he began groping inside.

I began to say Tehillim, simultaneously trying to calculate my chances of surviving a jump out of the fast-moving vehicle. The thing he was withdrawing was black; I began to say Shema.

Then the item came into view — it was a black kippah.

He placed it on his head.

Then he turned to me and announced with a smile, “Nothing can help you now. All the rabbis who come into my taxi are required to tell me a dvar Torah. And you will be no different. I have had big rabbis in this taxi, and all have shared Torah with me! So you too must do the same.”

As my body and soul began to relax, I began my dvar Torah with the words, “Hodu l’Hashem ki tov!”


Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the rabbi of Ahavas Israel in Passaic, New Jersey. He is also an adjunct professor at Lander College for Women and the author of three books.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 830)

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