Sunday, July 19, 2009

Train in Vain (aka - To Daven or Not to Daven)

The great minyan trainI had yet another great experience on the Messilat Yesharim Train minyan. The train goes from Yerushalayim, to Beit Shemesh, to Ramla and Lod, and finally to Tel Aviv. The Shacharit minyan starts at Beit Shemesh. The minyan takes place in the last car on the train and sometimes when we get on the car there are "not-yet davening Yerushalmis" sitting in the minyan train car. The apparent policy of the minyan is to live and let live. We don't bother them and we hope that they won't bother us. Usually, these few individuals decide to leave the car and find another seat. Since there are plenty of available seats, I don't feel too bad that they have to move.

However, this week I came on the train and found twelve rowdy teenagers sitting in the minyan car! All of the minyanites exchanged nervous glances and wondered how this situation was going to resolve itself. What made the situation more difficult was that the teenagers were sitting in the middle of the car and forced the minyan to take place around them. Now you don't have to be a High School teacher to know that trying to move a bunch of teenagers is more dangerous than shakin' a stick in a rattlesnake nest. Nevertheless, we all put on our tallit and tefillin and began to daven.

And then a miracle happened. I don't want to be overdramatic (or over-Chassidic) but I would call twelve teenagers who are sitting in the middle of an impromptu Shacharit minyan on a train and manage to whisper for 30 minutes - a flat out miracle worthy of saying Hallel. Now saying Hallel is wonderful and uplifting, but this story gets better. Two of these pintele yids heard their neshamot crying out to do a mitzvah and responded. It was as if the Ba'al Shem Tov himself came onto the train and inspired two of these teenage boys to lay tefillin and daven Shacharit. The Tikkun Olam in the train was overwhelming. As we exited the train to go to work, the Messilat Yesharim regulars had a spark in their eyes. They looked at each other and confirmed that they had been part of something special.


  1. What a zchus(t) to be a part of that!

  2. This year I became a regular on the Be'er Sheva-Tel Aviv line. I've never been particularly religious but I bought a tallit and tefillin and joined the minyan car. When my (more secular) friends ask me, "Haven't you gotten that out of your system yet?" I answer, "If you knew who was driving the train you'd be praying too."
    I don't think most of them really get the double entendre.

  3. Great response! However, I must say, that I have been quite impressed with the competence of the Israeli Transit employees that I have met.