A random encounter that took place three years ago turned into something extraordinary for Rabbi Yisroel Bernath of Chabad of NDG, who discovered how one can positively affect someone without even realizing it.
Three years ago, Rabbi Bernath received a phone call from a non-Jewish 7th grader, who explained that his teacher had asked him to interview a religious leader about the traiditions of marriage in their religion. The boy had chosen to explore Judaism’s view on marriage and asked the rabbi if he would mind being interviewed.
Rabbi Bernath scheduled an appointment and a few days later the boy came to his office together with his nanny who had driven him to Chabad of NDG. “For an hour or so he drilled me with questions he had been given by his teacher and some of his own as well,” said Rabbi Bernath. “Quite a serious kid, so much so that this encounter stands out in my mind. The nanny said but two words, she just sat in the back of the room minding her own business. They bid farewell and I thought nothing of this encounter.”
This past Shabbos, a modestly dressed, orthodox-looking woman walked into the Chabad House during the morning services and sat quietly in the last row. A large Kiddush was being held in honor of one of the members of the Shul who had recently converted to Judaism and the Synagogue was packed with many new faces. During the Kiddush, she told some of the women at her table that she recognized Rabbi Bernath. Three years ago she had worked as a nanny for about three months, and one day she had driven a 12 year old boy to ask Rabbi Bernath questions for a school project. She had sat quietly listening to their conversation about Jewish marriage. At the time she was living with a non-Jew and as a result of that random encounter she left him and started her path back to Judaism.
“In our busy schedules, we often brush off or ignore emails that seem trivial,” said Rabbi Bernath. “Never forget the power of a random encounter, email or call. There is someone on the other end reaching out to you in their time of need, and sometimes it’s G-d reaching out to them and you are just His messenger.”