A Smile in East Jerusalem
Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89 )
Chana, a 23-year-old spending some time in Israel, was asked by her friend for a picture of a particular view in the Old City. Despite not feeling great she decided to do the favour. Not thinking clearly she didn’t notice that she had mistakenly boarded an Arab bus heading into Eastern Jerusalem, a very unsafe area. She falls asleep, but once she had woken up and realised her mistake she is far from safety. There were no return buses heading her way and her phone was completely out of battery so she headed down the dark streets towards a settlement.
She knocks on a house. Preparing a story in her head that may keep her safe.
"Chana?!" exclaimed the girl who opened the door. The girl took her in, hugged her and pulled a card of the shelf.
Chana was taken completely by surprise but then suddenly realised who this was. A staff member in a hotel that she had stayed in 6 months earlier.
That trip she had made an effort to write down the names of the staff, from receptionists to waitress, and discover their interests. She proactively made a point to acknowledge and connect with every person that she could. Before she left she wrote thank you cards to them.
This was the card the house owner had pulled off the shelf, thinking that Chana had come to visit.
The girl and her uncle give Chana a lift to West Jerusalem.
In this week's Torah portion the Cohanim are told to bless the people with the following blessing: "May God shine His face upon you" (Bamidbar 6:25).
Bearing in mind that we are supposed to emulate God, what is the practical application of this verse?
Shamai says in Ethics of the Fathers, "Greet every person with a pleasant expression." Show people that we notice and acknowledge their existence.
Chana’s story is an amazing story of Divine Providence, but we already know that God can do anything. Perhaps the more powerful message is what we can learn from a girl who takes the time to pay attention to every person.