Herschel’s Story

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Herschel seems to have been one of a fortunate few who had an ongoing mail correspondence with Rabbi Meir Schuster. What follows is a sampling of Reb Meir’s letters to him at a time when Herschel was deciding what to do with his life. Reb Meir’s winning blend of warmth, friendly chit-chat and serious discussion makes these letters a real treasure.

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Dear Herschel,

Hi. What’s up, Herschel? I hope this letter find you well and in a good spirits. Nu – so when are we finally going to see Herschel? How is everything going there? Are you finally getting things settled and taken care of? I sure hope so and sure hope to be seeing you real soon. The Yeshiva is coming along very nicely. We have a new(er) Beit Midrash, a lot more spacious than our old one. We are still trying to get a new dining room and things are looking good. Another thing that’s looking good here is the weather. If you’d be smart you’d get out of that freezing cold New York weather and come on over to sunny Israel, real fast. This past Shabbos was the bris milah of Jerome’s new baby boy. His wife had twins! Bye for now. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Write!!
Sincerely,
Meir Schuster

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Dear Herschel,

Hi. How is everything coming along? I received your letter the other day and was indeed very happy to hear from you – especially that your return to the Holy Land is close at hand. Herschel, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. As for your returning to Israel and leaving the United States behind you, you are doing the best thing possible by coming here at this time. You will be welcomed at Aish HaTorah with open arms. It was at Aish HaTorah where you first began to discover your “roots” and it will be at Aish HaTorah that you will continue to grow in your newly discovered identity. You’re a Jew who has found his birthright and is eager to get to work to learn more about it. The more you find out about your heritage the more you will find out about yourself. At Aish HaTorah you will be afforded an opportunity to grow spiritually, strengthen yourself mentally and become a genuinely happy person. We’re all “rootin” for you Herschel! Come on home! Looking forward to seeing you.

Love,

Meir Schuster

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Dear Herschel,

Shalom. I hope this letter find you well and in good spirits. It was good speaking with you over the phone and it was nice receiving your letter. It is very apropos that this coming Shabbat is the reading of the portion of Lech-Lecha, dealing with G-d telling Avraham to go from his birthplace and from his father’s house to the land which he will be shown (and which was subsequently Eretz Yisroel). The L-rd is also telling you to leave your birthplace and the house of your parents to go to the land of Israel. Of course it’s difficult, Herschel, but it has to be done. If everything in life was so easy there wouldn’t be much meaning to life at all. It’s at times like these that we have to draw on the inner strength that our neshoma, our soul, provides us and use it to carry us through. Surely you are making some very big sacrifices but believe me, Herschel, the strength and the joy that you will reap from these sacrifices will by far outweigh any pain that you will feel in making these difficult choices. You’re doing the right thing Herschel and that’s what counts… I’ll sign off now with the words of encouragement that Moses, our leader, gave to Joshua as he was about to lead the people of Israel into the land of Israel. “Be strong and fortified.” I am anxiously waiting to see you here in the Holy City. With deep friendship I remain,

Meir Schuster

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Herschel and his wife, Naomi, are the proud parents of Adina, Tzipporah, Sara Chasya, and Dovid Moshe. Herschel is an entrepreneur and divides his day between work and Torah study. He is a devoted husband and father and is tireless in his involvement in community affairs. He also claims to hold the world record for encountering Rabbi Meir Schuster. In the summer of 1978, Herschel was travelling through the Mediterranean region making stops in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy and Greece. Five hours after landing in Israel he met Rabbi Schuster and the rest… is history. Jewish history, of course.