We used to live in Rehovot. I worked in Tel Aviv, and sometimes I returned home late at night. I would take a short cut using the back road, instead of the main road to go home. One night I was driving my rather old and dilapidated Sousita home, when I saw an elderly gentleman stand at the side of the road, hitchhiking. I stopped and offered him a ride. Keep in mind my car had no internal lights, there were no overhead lights on the road either, and it was dark. He got into the car, and immediately asked me how the Lubavitcher Rebbe was faring.

Okay, so he could recognize that I was a Chabadnik.

Okay, so he could recognize that I was a Chabadnik. It’s not so difficult. Most Israelis can pick us out. But his next words indicated that he was aware that I had flown the year before to see the Rebbe, and that I had received a blessing for my two children. He also knew that I lived near the Chabad shul in Rehovot, and made allusions to inner meanings of my name, Yaakov. How did he know all this?

After that, he launched into a discourse regarding guests and the manner in which our forefather Avraham fulfilled the mitzvah, keeping his tent open on all sides for guests and receiving them no matter what.

I listened open-mouthed. At that particular point in time, my wife and I had been having a running argument about hospitality for years, due to my practice of bringing people home unannounced from Shul. And they were usually total strangers too. The gentleman gave me a long and involved lecture on the subject and encouraged me not to argue with my wife, but to explain to her the reason to receive guests at any given time without notice.

I started to feel really eerie, even a little scared. How could he possibly know so much about me?

He got out of my car near Moshav Be'er Yaakov, leaving me stunned.

After the lesson he informed me we had reached his stop, and wished me well. He got out of my car near Moshav Be'er Yaakov, leaving me stunned. When I arrived home, my wife became startled, saying my face was pale white. She became even more startled when I related to her all that had just transpired!

As I passed that moshav daily on my commute, I made a habit of looking for him among all the familiar faces I saw day after day, but I never laid eyes on him again.

We have never stopped wondering who he was. Could he have been the patriarch Abraham? Elijah the Prophet? Perhaps one of you readers can find him for us. He was old, with piercing eyes and heavy brows, and had a very long, grey beard. We will always wonder. I’d like to tell him that since that night in 5743 (1983), his lesson has been carefully adhered to.

Adapted from a letter received in Summer 2000 from Yaakov Ben-Tor.

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