Joseph Neppe’s Story

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Coming from a South African background used to the comforts of home, at the age of 28, I was not particularly enamored of a dormitory-style of living.  Fortunately, Ohr Somayach had provided me with a nice upstairs bedroom with a balcony and a fine young man as a roommate.

Now, my equilibrium was shattered.  I was being informed that a young bloke from England whose father was paying a mighty sum for board, would be taking my bed, and I would have to join at least five other bocherim downstairs in a communal hodgepodge.

I distinctly felt the color draining from my face at the prospect.  Then, all of a sudden, someone, who must have been observing the instructions issued, clasped my shoulder.  I felt the strength of the grip surging into my veins.

“Don’t worry,” he said.  You won’t have to move rooms.  I’ll see to it!”

As it happened, my roommate willingly moved and I stayed.

The name of the person who showed such sensitivity and retrieved my plight was Rabbi Meir Shuster.

TWO

Rabbi Meir Shuster wanted to host all of the South African bocherim at Ohr Somayach for a Shabbos Seuda.  There were at least 12 of us.  So we were told.  Not thinking anything amiss, the group set out from the yeshiva to Mattersdorf.  We passed Rabbi Mendel Weinbach on the way, and he asked where were we going?  To rabbi Shuster, we replied.

“All of you?” he asked

“Yah”, was the reply.

“Wow”, he exclaimed.

Eventually, we arrived at his small apartment and entered one by one. I was about the eighth to step inside.

“Good Shabbos”, I said merrily.

Rabbi Shuster stood at the door.  His mouth was agape with astonishment.  A limp hand was put out to greet me.  His wide-eyed look spoke of disbelief.

Of course, he wanted to host the South Africans, but rather a few bachorim at a time over a course of a few weeks.  There was a misunderstanding.

New invitations were made.   A group of heroic volunteers ran back to the yeshiva. In the end, those that stayed  –  I was amongst them  –   enjoyed a hearty meal. Rabbi Shuster kept his cool admirably, and we basked in the presence of his home.