David Goldshmidt (’14) recently wrote the following email to Ms. Goldstein and agreed to share it on our website.

This year I’m serving as a mentor for 18 year old boys who are learning in a Chabad gap year yeshiva in Jerusalem. The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged every Jew to be a “lamplighter”—to illuminates his or her environment, typically by encouraging and helping a fellow Jew fulfill a mitzvah such as to wrap Tefilin or to light Shabbat candles. I try to live my life with this mindset.

I was traveling with the Yeshiva boys to Safed for Shabbat and while we stopped at a rest stop, one of the yeshiva boys and I decided to walk around with a pair of Tefilin hoping to help someone who may not have had the opportunity to wrap Tefilin that morning.

We politely approached one Israeli man, and my friend offered to help him wrap Tefilin. We sensed that he wasn’t particularly interested in fulfilling the mitzvah. He sarcastically replied, “When you read Kafka, then I’ll put on Tefilin!”

I suddenly remembered learning the works of Kafka five years ago in Ms. Goldstein’s English class. I stepped up and said, “Actually I have read Kafka. Franz Kafka himself said that you must “take an axe to your frozen sea.” This is your opportunity!” He was taken aback, and he withdrew his side of the deal. But I persisted. “What’s the story with the cockroach (referring to Metamorphosis)?” He curiously (and cautiously) tested further. I replied with a quick synopsis.

He was clearly impressed that a yeshiva bochur was (albeit somewhat) well-versed in Kafka. He obliged to put on Tefilin, and he even shared that this was his first time fulfilling the special Mitzvah since his very Bar Mitzvah.

Thank you, Ms. Goldstein, for the love-infused teachings which would resonate with me for years to come—and which would even come in handy in unexpected situations. This story truly brings out the concept that every detail of our world is directed with Divine Providence.

May you continue to light up the world, one student at a time.

To submit your Academy Story, email icjanews@icja.org