By Gavriel Horan
Tishah B’Av is a time to mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, but it is also a time to focus on rebuilding it. For the fifth year in a row, tens of thousands of people in over 100 frum communities across North America and the world left Tishah B’Av with a message they will never forget. Project Inspire’s fifth annual Tishah B’Av film, “Just a Word” offered a powerful solution to speed up the geulah—one word at a time.
The film began with inspirational words from Rav Dovid Weinberger of Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence and was hosted by the renowned speaker Charlie Harary.
“Each and every one of us is sitting on a power plant,” Mr. Harary said. “Each of us was created by Hashem with the power to create—to change someone’s life—and we don’t do it because we don’t know we can.” The ability to change lives, he explained, was with the power of speech.
He continued to share two inspirational stories showing how someone’s life was indelibly changed from just a few short words. The first story was about Danny Dangoor—a kosher chef from Los Angeles, whose life was changed when he remembered that someone once told him that “Hashem has his back.”
When a job interview in New Jersey took a turn for the worse last summer, he remembered the phrase and began to think about what good could possibly come out of having traveled all the way to New Jersey from L.A. for nothing. Just then he recalled that someone had mentioned that there was a big Jewish event going on that day in New Jersey. He was slowly getting more involved with Judaism and decided to find out where it was. A quick phone call revealed that it was just a short train ride away. Soon he found himself at the siyum haShas in Met Life Stadium. Although he felt out of place with his long hair in the sea of black and white, his neshamah was inspired to begin learning Gemara for the first time in his life. Today he learns the daf every day with a ba’al habos in L.A. and has already finished the first three masechtas of Shas!
The second story was about Jack Samuel, a real estate agent in Toronto, who was introduced to Yiddishkeit by a frum client of his many years back. After Rabbi Shlomo Cheyn agreed to sign on the property that Jack had shown him, he produced a contract of his own. The contract stated that in return for purchasing the property, Jack had to agree to come to the Cheyn’s new home for Shabbos and attend two kiruv classes. “I’m willing to sign your contract if you sign mine,” he said to Jack. Jack agreed and within no time he took off to attend yeshiva and was on the road to building his own Torah-observant family. Rabbi Cheyn eventually taught two of his children in yeshiva!
“These stories show how easy it is to change someone’s life forever,” Project Inspire’s managing director and the film producer, Yossie Friedman, said. “That’s the message of Project Inspire: reaching out is simple—you just have to care enough to do it. It just takes going a little out of our comfort zones and realizing that what we say can change people’s lives.”
As Tishah B’Av came to an end, Project Inspire broadcast a live program on Nachum Siegel’s radio show hosted by Mr. Harary. People who watched the film were asked to call in and tell their stories of inspiration with regard to using their power of words. In addition to regular callers, the show also included calls from Rabbi Menachem Zupnick of Passaic, as well as Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein and Rabbi Chaim Sampson of Project Inspire. One caller had attended the filming of one segment of the movie and reported that after hearing Mr. Harary’s words he was inspired to invite a non-frum family over for Shabbos. “I realized that you really don’t have to be a gadol to use your words to impact someone’s life,” he said.
At the end of the film, Mr. Harary challenged the viewers to take one minute to build one relationship with another Jew who is estranged from Yiddishkeit. We could change the world! In response, hundreds of people registered to be paired up with one-on-one learning partners. By next Tishah B’Av there may be countless Jews who are closer to Hashem because of their efforts. They are helping to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash—one word at a time. May we all merit to see it completed, speedily and in our days.
To view “Just a Word,” visit www.kiruv.com. To learn more about how you can get involved in Project Inspire contact 646-291-6191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. v