By Margie Pensak
“David, a customer of mine that I service, owns a very large manufacturing company in the Midwest. When I went to visit him for the first time, I was able to observe that he had a less than favorable impression of frum yidden. I picked it up right away. He told me some of the issues he had over the years, and I said to him, ‘David, with me—with us—it’s going to be different!’ I set out, as I make sure to do with every customer, to treat him very well, to change his perception so he would see yiddishkeit for what it really is.
This facility was inspected by the OK on a monthly basis, and I instructed the mashgiach to ask him to put on tefillin on every visit that he paid. David repeatedly politely said, ‘No’ for approximately ten years—which amounted to approximately 120 times! But, he wasn’t offended that we asked. By the 120th time, I paid a visit to him, together with the mashgiach. Again, we said ‘hello’ and schmoozed a little bit.
I asked him, ‘David, will you put on tefillin?’ He said, ‘Yes!’ So, without risking the opportunity, we seized the moment and put on tefillin on him and said Shema. After he put on tefillin, he was so excited. It was a real revelation. We said, ‘David, we’re delighted that you put on tefillin, but can you tell us what is going on? For the past ten years, you declined, each time, to put on tefillin; and suddenly, you’re putting on tefillin.’ He said, “Let me tell you a story. I’ve been trying to sell my product to a particular establishment. For years and years, I’ve spoken to the buyer, and my competitor is servicing this establishment. One day, I get a call from my buyer telling me that this establishment was no longer happy with my competitor’s product; they wanted to use my product, instead.’
David suddenly got himself a very large piece of business and, as a result of that, he had to create a new shift of production in his facility. While all this was going on, he got a call from his married daughter, who has two kids, on the West Coast, who told him that her husband just lost his job. As a good father and father-in-law, he flew out to the West Coast to be with him for a few days. He told them not to worry—he would support them until his son-in-law gets another job.
When David got back to the Midwest, he realized that with new sudden surge in his business, he has to send his product to the West Coast, and his son-in-law who is now unemployed, can be a distributor of his product on the West Coast. He rented a warehouse and bought his son-in-law a used truck, and hired him to manage his newfound business on the West Coast.
Then, David said to Rabbi Hanoka, ‘Rabbi, look at all the things that just happened. After years and years of trying to sell my product to a particular very large customer, suddenly out of the blue, my competitor messed up on his product and the buyer is interested in taking my product which created the whole new surge of business for me, which created the whole new production shift for me. Then, suddenly, the exact same time that my son-in-law lost his job, in exactly the same area where I was starting to send my product–as a result of this–I was now in the position to hire my son-in-law to manage this newfound business. All this comes together. As human beings, a man could not orchestrate this together. G-d did it; G-d did it! I’m ready to put on tefillin.’
From this true story you learn the lesson of–and power of—never giving up. You keep trying. Our job is to go out and do, the rest is up to Hashem! You also learn that a yid who has negative feelings towards yiddishkeit, is not defining of who he really is. Unfortunately, they had some issues or some experiences that are getting in the way. Their true selves, their neshamas, are not shining through. But, our job is not to fight with them—on the contrary, to embrace them even more and get their neshama to shine through and the emes shine through. That is really what it’s all about.”