By Rabbi Dovid Markel
I recently heard a story about R. Shlomo Carlebach from R. Levi Sudak, (Chabad Shliach in Edgware) at a chassidic gathering.
When he was studying at the Chabad Yeshiva in Morristown NJ, he befriended a student studying at the baal teshuvah yeshivah that occupied the same building.
The student was an interesting fellow who sported a somewhat disheveled look. Although the front of his head received a normal haircut, the back of his head was completely disheveled.
One day, the young Levi Sudak, then around 17, suggested to his friend, a baal teshuva of 30 years old, that he get a haircut to fix his unkempt look.
The man told him that he had scars there and therefore did not wish to cut his hair there, as doing so would make them visible.
When Levi asked the man how he got scars, he explained that he had twice tried to kill himself and had unseemly and embarrassing scars on his neck.
He then went on to explain how he had ended up in Yeshivah:
He had been at a concert of R. Shlomo Carlebach. At the concert, R. Shlomo asked that everyone write down their name and phone number.
Everyone did so, and R. Shlomo stuffed the papers into his pockets. The man was doubtful that from the hundreds of names received R. Shlomo would actually call him, but he wrote his name down as well.
A few months went by, and the man overcome with depression decided to kill himself. He went to the hardware store, purchased a hook and a rope and went home…
He screwed the hook into the ceiling, and was holding the rope when suddenly the phone rang; it was R. Shlomo on the line.
“How are you brother?” asked R. Shlomo. When the man asked R. Shlomo if he really wanted to know, he proceeded to tell him that he was actually holding the phone in one hand and a rope to kill himself in the other.
R. Shlomo told him, “do me a favor and put the rope on the bed.” He continued talking to him until he eventually told him, “pack your bags and go to the yeshiva in Morristown.”
R. Levi Sudak concluded that this acquaintance of his ended of receiving semicha, marrying, having a family, and is today a rav of a community.
We never know the power of a bit of sensitivity….If we know someone that might be feeling down, reach out to them, give them a call, you may save or transform their lives…