By Hershel Rosenbluh
The name of this story is “How Aron Mendelsohn didn’t bat an eyelash and helped a fremder bochur.”
The story takes us back some 25 years, to Simchas Torah, 5754/1993. Said bochur (that would be me – H.R.) walked from Boro Park together with a large group of chassidim to 770 to spend simchas torah with the Rebbe. Maariv had been announced for a certain time and we were going to be there early, to catch good places. The Rebbe would come out on the porch for maariv and hakafos, just like the night before. Little did we know that we wouldn’t have the zechus to see the Rebbe that night.
When we arrived in 770, instead of running to catch seats we were caught off guard! The Rebbe had come into 770 for hakafos at 8:00 or so, and hakafos had ended a short while earlier. (Most men and bochurim were away on tahalucha and also didn’t get back on time.) Many had made kiddush already and the shul was af redder, as they say. The ones that stayed behind or got there early; they were the “lucky” ones.
After hakafos we were invited to eat seudas yomtov at an “open house” on “Eastern Parkway.” One thing leads to another and before you knew it I was talking to a guy I’d never met before about not having Rabbeinu Tam’s tefillin. He tells me that he has an extra pair that he can give me and let me use them for as long I wish. And so it was! After yomtov I met the gentleman and he gave me the tefillin, as they were, in a zekkel that still had his initials on it. I had them checked. they were nice and kosher.
That man was Aron Zev Mendelsohn, a”h.
I still use those tefillin today.
Over the years, I lost touch with Aron. At first I’d see him around Crown Heights and we’d talk a bit about his latest venture. But then I stopped seeing him around. But I kept the tefillin bag, even when I went and got myself another one with my name on it. Every once in a while the bag shows up and I remember fondly the unbelievable gesture Aron made to a complete stranger. But I never threw it in shaimos, even after being encouraged to do so many times.
So here I am saying “thank you, Aron.” May your sweet neshomoh have an aliya in shomayim, and then a yerida back here on this world, with the coming of moshiach and techiyas hameisim.
Speedily in our days.