They stood there awkwardly at the entrance to the marquee, too embarrassed to enter. The large tent was one of many set up this year in Meron to accommodate the multitudes of Yidden who had come to the tiny mountain village for Lag B'Omer and the Shabbos following.
Despite the diversity of the crowd seated together, the two still stuck out incongruously. Their casual clothes seemed quite out of place among the formal Shabbos attire that everyone else was wearing, or was it his white-blond-dyed hair in loose mushroom style that made the younger of the two shift his feet uncomfortably? Yes, Jewish they were (were they really?) yet they found no place among their Jewish brothers in the tent and hesitated to join.
Two brothers. Originally from Vienna, one now resides in Yerushalayim and the other in London. Both had come together to share the memorable experience of Lag B'omer and Shabbos in Meron, to pour out their hearts in prayer on the Yom Hillulah of the holy tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in unison with thousands of fellow Yidden.
Clad in streimel and bekishe R' Simcha Yonah and R' Dovid sat in the tent drinking in every moment of the Shabbos, when they saw them. The two Russian boys were standing at the entrance flap, looking wistfully at the crowds, at the laden tables piled with every type of Shabbos food that the various chessed organizations could dream up, at the radiant faces of all those fortunate enough to be a part. They could see the longing in their eyes, imagine the emptiness in their hearts, and together they beckoned to them to join their table. Still hesitant, they edged a little closer until one of the brothers rose from his seat and led them forward with a friendly arm and warm words of persuasion.
Over the ensuing seudah, between the sumptuous food and spirited zemiros, the four became acquainted and slowly the story of the younger boy came out.
What chance does a Jewish boy born in Munkacz seventeen years ago have? A Munkacz devoid of Yidden and Yiddishkeit gave him no inkling of what it means to be a Jew.
His childhood was one of hardship, and life did not get much easier when he came to Eretz Yisroel. Three lonely years without his parents followed during which he had tentatively begun feeling the sensation of living as a Yid. Yes, he had an older brother who keeps Torah and mitzvos but he lived in another city and they rarely got a chance to meet. The only one he can call a friend is this wonderful young man accompanying him, who has taken him under his wing both physically and spiritually.
Listening closely the brothers leaned forward over the table as the boy dropped his voice to a whisper to reveal his guilt- laden secret: His older brother had a bris milah but he, unfortunately, was as yet uncircumcised.
They recoiled in shock; and the immediate question — why not? Three years is a long time. But the boy is afraid. He fears literally for his life. He is afraid that he'll die under the milah knife.
As Shabbos passed they decided come what may to persuade him to undergo bris milah, to become a true member of the nation of Avrohom Ovinu.
Their efforts bore fruit and the boy, albeit fearfully, agreed. Now all they had to do was find the right mohel.
Sunday saw the two Kleins in the airport as R' Simcha Yonah left for London. He assured his brother Dovid that immediately upon his arrival he would contact R' Yisroel Stern, a prominent mohel who had performed many brisos on adults in the U.S.S.R.
After seeing him through baggage control, Dovid turned around and was just trying to decide how to make his return to Yerushalayim, when he was approached by a heimishe avreich. The latter had come to see his father off, also on the flight to London and they decided to share a taxi home.
As they traveled, their conversation turned to the uplifting Shabbos in Meron, and Dovid related the unfinished story of the Russian baal teshuvoh.
"My brother will speak to R' Yisroel Stern as soon as he arrives. He travels worldwide for the mitzvah of bris milah, perhaps he'll come to Eretz Yisroel for this one - or maybe he'll anyway be here in the near future. It's important to act fast while the boy — "
"Hold it! Just a moment," his newfound companion interrupted him, "This R' Yisroel Stern happens to be my father-in-law and what's more he "happens" to be in my house in Yerushalayim right now!"
What an amazing revelation of Hashem's hashgocho helping His children do the mitzvos they so dearly want to fulfill!
Hurried inquiries were made to confirm that our friend was indeed born of a Jewish mother and then all was arranged.
Two days later, in a voice cracking with emotion, R' Yisroel intoned the words "lehachniso bivriso shel Avrohom Ovinu".
The Gavad of Yerushalayim, who acted as sandek, was also honored with the brochos — "and his name shall be called in Yisroel, Avrohom ben Mendel".
Before leaving, the Rav bentched the nimol warmly. As if on cue his friends stepped forward one by one to kiss the Rav's hand and to receive his blessing on their bowed heads.
A lavish seudas bris milah followed with Avrohom taking part, and of course when they sang Yom leyaboshoh and danced R' Simcha Yonah Klein was singing together with them over the telephone from London.
The story has a sequel almost too obvious to tell. As in the mitzva gorreres mitzva chain, to date, Avrohom has two friends whom he has persuaded to have bris milah too. Mi ke'amcho Yisroel.