I Was Waiting For You
by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, Jerusalem
This is a true story that happened to me several years ago, but it is a story which I will never forget. Because of it, I now have a “thing” about locking front doors, though, truth to tell, I was always careful about making sure that they were locked. After all, one never knows….
We had been living in our Jerusalem apartment for approximately two years. My husband and I had an appointment one evening, and we were hurrying to leave our apartment and get to our destination on time.
As we stepped into the elevator of our apartment building, I asked him if he had locked the front door of our apartment. He answered in the affirmative.
Being innately careful about the need to lock doors, I repeated my query of whether or not he had locked our front door as our elevator descended.
Yes, he assured me. Nothing to worry about. The front door was locked.
Quite a few hours later we returned home to our Jerusalem apartment.
I don’t know what made me try the front door handle before putting my key in the front door lock, but I did. The door was unlocked.
I charily pushed open the front door, and walked in, my husband close behind. Facing us, sitting at the head of our very large, heavy mahogany dining room table, next to our full-of-silver silver cabinet, sat a very large Chassid.
A big man, he was dressed in a large Shtreimel and a long black coat.
As we walked into the room, this large stranger smiled and said, “I came to collect tzedakah money for a needy bride. Your door was open, but no one was home. I was afraid to leave your door unlocked, so I waited until you returned.”
At which point he got up and walked out.
We were so shocked to see this huge stranger sitting at our dining room table that till today we do not remember whether or not we gave him any tzedakah money — or any money for the hours he had spent as a shomer, guarding our home and thus not being able to go around collecting the tzedakah money for which he had come.
But one thing I do know: only in Israel could a stranger spend his entire evening babysitting a stranger’s house so that no dishonest strangers should enter it.
[Reprinted with permission from On Cab Drivers, Shopkeepers and Strangers by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein [Feldheim].]
Author of ON BUS DRIVERS, DREIDELS AND ORANGE JUICE (Feldheim), ON CAB DRIVERS, SHOPKEEPERS AND STRANGERS (Feldheim), ON BUS STOPS, BAKERS AND BEGGARS (Feldheim),, HAPPY HINTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL ALIYAH (Feldheim), and I LIVE WITH MY MOMMY (Menucha Publishers), Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein has edited several books including Copyright in Jewish Law (Feldheim) and TO DWELL IN THE PALACE (Feldheim), an anthology on life in Israel. All books are available at Jewish bookstores or via the publishers online. She made aliya in 1971, and lives in Jerusalem.