Written by Rochele Haramati
Yaakov ran, huffing and sweating, toward the bus stop, hoping to catch the bus that was there. Unfortunately, he missed it by a second and he had no choice but to wait for half an hour for the next bus. Yaakov does not take these things to heart and he is not the type to waste time. He began scanning the passersby to see who might be a potential customer for mivtza t’fillin.
To his good fortune, the bus stop was busy. Buses came and went, people got on and got off. Hardly anyone refused to put on t’fillin. Yaakov was very pleased.
A bus was coming. Was it his? No. When the bus arrived it picked up everyone waiting there and Yaakov remained alone. He looked around and suddenly noticed a black briefcase on the bench. His heart began pounding. It was a suspicious item and the week before there had been a number of attacks. Maybe…
One minute. Yaakov stopped his wild imagination and began thinking logically. When he got to the bus stop the briefcase was not there, he was sure of that. And he had not seen a single person with Arab features, so probably someone had forgotten his briefcase and that was all.
He hesitantly approached the briefcase and gingerly opened it. Before his astonished eyes he saw piles and piles of money. Whose money was this? Who had forgotten this vast amount of money at a bus stop?
He took a paper out of his pocket and wrote on it, “Hashavas Aveida” with his phone number and put it up on the wall of the bus shelter. His bus came a few minutes later and he boarded it while holding the black briefcase. He prayed that he would be able to fulfill the mitzva of returning a lost item to its owner.
When he got home, he told his mother about the briefcase and asked her to be sure to answer the phone because maybe the owner of the briefcase would call. When he went out for Mincha-Maariv, his mother sighed and thought: Yaakov is such a great bachur. It’s already a year since he came back from shlichus with the goal of getting married, but he hasn’t found a shidduch yet.
She knew what wonderful middos Yaakov had, and he deserved a quality girl, but what could be done when the best girls were looking for someone smart who is a lamdan and not merely for a plain, good, yerei shamayim?
The phone rang and she answered it. An unfamiliar nervous voice asked, “Did you find a briefcase?”
“Yes,” said Yaakov’s mother and she gave the man her address. Within an hour, a Chassidic man appeared. He provided identifying signs and was given the briefcase. He could not stop thanking Yaakov and his mother. “A few hours ago I came back from England where I worked hard to raise money for our yeshiva. I guess that in my exhaustion I forgot the briefcase with all the donations at the bus stop. But it was all worth it so that I could meet a bachur with such yiras shamayim and fine middos.”
It seems that the bracha that a boy be a Chassid, yerei shamayim and only then a lamdan is not quite the order which people are looking for in a shidduch. For many people, the lamdanus comes first, like in the Litvishe world.
What importance should we attribute to lamdanus in a Chassidishe bachur, and how much weight should we give to good middos and being a mentch?
I think the question is unrealistic since I don’t see that many outstanding lamdanim around… Anyway, a Chassid has Chassidishe middos, good middos, he goes in the ways of Chassidus, he carries out the Rebbe’s takanos, Rambam and all Chassidishe minhagim. A yerei shamayim fulfills the halachos that pertain to yiras shamayim. A lamdan refers to love of Torah, someone who uses every free moment for learning. A lamdan is not about knowledge but about an attitude toward Torah study.
How much of an emphasis should be placed on a bachur’s middos?
The Rebbe’s guideline is to stress three things: good middos, yiras shamayim, and feeling attracted. That means that good middos are a critical element. If the boy and girl have good middos, they can bridge many differences, but if good middos are lacking and there is stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise, every little disagreement will likely turn into a huge conflict.