Yossi was not sure why David wanted him to think about how he was feeling when he saw what was happening around him, but he trusted David. He trusted him because his Rabbi had told him that David could help him, but also because he was comfortable around David. He was a good listener and Yossi felt that David cared about him and wanted to help Yossi to understand what was happening to him, what caused it to happen and how he could learn to control this unique power.
As Yossi was walking to the store, he saw an older boy poking a stick at a cat hiding under a porch. Yossi walked up to the boy and told him that he was not following the commandments against Tsar Baalei Chaim (cruelty towards animals). The boy looked up at Yossi and began to hit him with the stick that he had used to poke and hurt the cat.
At first, Yossi used his hands to cover his head and his face. Then, he became angry and grabbed the stick. Yossi was about to begin hitting the boy with the stick that he had taken forcefully out of his hands. He stopped, took a deep breath, looked into the boy’s frightened eyes, and broke the stick in half over his knee.
“What did you think you were doing?” Yossi yelled. “Cruelty to animals is a big offence. Then, turning the stick on me because I was trying to stop you from hurting that poor little cat, what is the matter with you?”
The boy, realizing that he was no longer in danger of being hit by Yossi and the cat, seeing that she was no longer in danger of being poked by the boy, both turned around and ran as fast as they could away from Yossi and away from the place that caused them so much fear and grief.
That week at David’s, Yossi told him the story. “I don’t know why I was able to stop myself from hitting that boy. I was angry and then scared and then angry again. I tried to stop and think about what I was feeling, and I think in that second, I was able to restrain from hitting that boy with the stick that he had used to hurt me and the cat. I really don’t understand the need to be mean. It puzzles me.”
David, as usual, listened to everything that Yossi had to say. In the end, he praised him for controlling his anger. “To control the emotion of anger, which is one of the strongest emotions we as humans have, takes courage and maturity. I am very proud of you Yossi.”
David continued, “you know that God does not like us to lose our tempers. We have many instances in the Tanach (Bible) where people are punished for losing their tempers, even our great teacher, Moshe Rabenu, who hits the rock to get water from it rather than speaking to it. Some say, this was one of the reasons God did not let him into the land of Israel.”
“It is a lifetime challenge for many people to keep from getting angry, but it looks like you are able, when it is important, to stop from hurting another person, even in the heat of anger,” added David. “This makes me more confident that you will not use your “special power” to harm another living being.”
Yossi was happy to hear David saying this. He believed that he could be in control of his anger when it counted the most; however, what happened to cause him to laser words off walls and replace them with others? If it wasn’t caused by anger, then what did cause it?”
Yossi expressed this to David and David responded, “Yossi, with your permission, I would like to speak with the reading specialist who taught you how to focus your eyes to help you learn how to read. Maybe he can give us some insight, in other words some ideas about his method and exactly what it causes the eye muscles to do.”
“That is fine with me”, said Yossi. I have his phone number and I am happy to bring you to his office. It is in the old city and a little confusing to find.”
“Wonderful,” said David. "I will call him and maybe next week we can visit him together. Until then, continue to write down your feelings. Especially the angry ones, during this week.”
“See you next week”, said Yossi as he walked out the door. “This was a great meeting”, he thought to himself. “Maybe I really do have a gift that can be used only for good!”
The following week, Yossi came to David’s office ready for him to tell him that they had a meeting with the reading specialist. Instead, when David opened the door for him, he said, “Yossi, I tried several times to reach the reading specialist and then I called the number for information. They do not have this number listed nor do they have his name listed anywhere in the country. I asked the operator to search past records and there is no one with that name, Avreimi Rachmi, in all of Israel, nor has there ever been someone in Jerusalem, listed as a reading specialist, with that name.”
“That can’t be!” exclaimed Yossi. “I went to him for a whole year. We worked almost an hour every week and then he sent me home with exercises. I think that I still have some of the exercises that he wrote down for me to do, at home.”
“Well,” said David, “why don’t we take a little walk over to where his office is, or was, and see what we find. Were you in contact with him after you finished your reading lessons?” David asked.
“Not really”, recalled Yossi, “he told me that he did all that he could do for me and the rest was up to me, to continue the exercises and reading. Only with hard work, would I become the ‘person I was meant to be’, he said. When I think about it, that was kind of a strange thing to say, to become the ‘person I was meant to be’. You would think that he would say something like to become a good reader, or a good student.”
“Let’s go,” said David. “Now I am becoming very curious. I want to meet this Avreimi if we can find him!”
David and Yossi walked through the streets and alleyways of the Old City of Jerusalem. Yossi seemed very sure of where he was going, after all, for a full year he had gone to Avreimi’s office to learn his method of strengthening the eye muscles and focusing on the words to help him read. Yossi was sure that the exercises had helped because he saw his progress in the Cheder and he had been accepted to the Yeshiva (Junior high and high school) since he was able to pass the tests. He never would have been able to do this if he had not learned with Avreimi and practiced his reading and eye exercises every day.
As he and David approached the place where Yossi was sure that he would find Avreimi’s office there was a small store selling religious items. Yossi walked in. “Excuse me. I am looking for Avreimi Rachmi. He had an eye clinic here where I learned for a year,” he said.
“Welcome”, answered the man behind the counter. “We are the Leiter brothers, and this has been our shop for five generations. We have sold religious items from this store for over 100 years. Sometimes they were religious items for Muslims, sometimes for Christians and other times for Jews. We carry many important objects that people from all the three main Religions in this area use. There has never been an eye clinic here and I have no idea who your friend Avreimi is, but I am happy to show you some beautiful Kippot (head coverings for religious Jewish males)!”
“This can’t be,” exclaimed Yossi. “I am sure this is the place where I came to learn how to strengthen my eye muscles and become a reader, I’m sure of it!”
“Let’s look around this area a little, Yossi. Maybe things have changed over the past couple of years since you came here and with all these little streets and alleys, anyone could make a mistake,” David calmly said.
Yossi and David walked around for almost an hour. Yossi always came back to the same place, the small store with religious items.
“See,”, said Yossi. “That blue gate in front of the house over there. That was one of the signposts that helped me to find this place when I first started coming. And look over there, the tile on the wall that has the drawing of the deer baked on it. All of these were markers that pointed to Avreimi’s office so that I would never get lost.”
“It seems that you didn’t get lost”, said David, “but maybe Avreimi did.”
“What do you mean?” asked Yossi.
“Well, maybe Avreimi was here for a short period of time, with a specific 'mission' to accomplish and after he finished his job, he left, disappeared, until he was called on for completing another mission.”
“I don’t understand”, said Yossi. “What do you mean, ‘left, disappeared’? People do not just disappear. Maybe something bad happened to him, God forbid! Maybe we need to call the police! I am worried about him. He was a very special man, and he took it upon himself to help me. I’m not even sure if he was paid regularly, but he was always there for me! Can you imagine the gift of helping someone to learn to read? There is no greater gift! Especially for a boy like me who was put at a table in first grade with toys for little children while the other children learned together! A boy like me who was made fun of for being stupid!” Yossi cried.
Yossi said to David, “I never told you the story about how one day I was walking home with the boys, and they were beginning to read signs and writing on the wall. One boy said, ‘Oh look what this says.’ Everyone stopped and looked at the wall. ‘It says Yossi is a stupid boy who should leave the Cheder and learn how to cook with the girls!’ Everyone began to laugh, even the boys who I thought were my friends! Instead of going home, I ran as fast as I could to Avreimi’s clinic, knocked on the door and fell on the sofa crying. I wanted to run away forever!” Yossi was crying as he told this story to David.
“We have to try to find him!” Yossi shouted.
David tried to calm Yossi down. Then he said to him, “Yossi, we may not be able to find Avreimi. Think about what gifts he gave you. Maybe it was more than teaching you how to read.”
Yossi stopped sobbing and looked up at David. “What are you saying? I don’t understand. What other gifts could he have given me?”
As the expression goes, a light turned on, and Yossi remembered why he was meeting with David in the first place, the laser beam eyes that erased the hateful words on the walls and replaced them with words of loving kindness.
That evening Yossi, David and Yossi’s Rabbi sat in the Rabbi’s office discussing all the events that had happened over the last two months and even before that, when Yossi was learning with Avreimi.
Yossi’s Rabbi turned to Yossi and David and said, “Hashem (God) works in mysterious ways. Many times, He sends people to us who change our lives. Even those who are mean and hateful to us are part of a bigger plan to make the world a better place for everyone. It seems to me, Yossi, that you are a very important part of God’s plan for making our world a better place. Your 'special power', which God willing will always be used for the Good, has the capacity to turn hateful words into words of loving kindness. Imagine if all over the walls of our neighborhood, instead of reading words that caused us to want to separate from or hurt someone who is different, they read words that encouraged us to love one another and therefore look for what we have in common.”
David added, “I think that your Rabbi is right Yossi. We don’t know the reason that you have this special gift, but words are very powerful, and the written word is the most powerful of all words. Written words have built and destroyed nations. They have the power to create or destroy. Reading is the key to entering the world of the written world. It is one of the most precious gifts. All of us remember who taught us to read and the feeling of reading stories on our own. Your Avreimi, gave you an additional gift, a rare gift. You have the power within you to always use it for Good. You have the power to change the world with your words of love and kindness.”
Yossi listened closely to what his Rabbi and David said. He thought about the responsibility he had been given, not just the power. That night, Yossi had a dream. Avreimi came to him in his dream. Yossi cried out, “Avreimi, we looked for you everywhere and we could not find you. Where have you gone? Are you well? Did you give me the gift of the laser beam eyes?”
Yossi had so many questions but finally stopped and listened. Avreimi looked into Yossi’s eyes. “You have done well my pupil”, he said. “I knew that you would work hard on your exercises, and I understood how badly you wanted to learn to read. It wasn’t just so your classmates would stop making fun of you, it was that you truly wanted to read, to learn, to grow. ‘This is a special boy,’ I said to myself. 'This is a boy who could grow up to be someone who will help unite the Jewish people. This is a boy who will be able to control his temper and use all of his gifts for the Good'.”
Then, Avreimi stopped talking, he placed his hands over Yossi’s head, and he gave him a blessing. “Go with God my Yossi. May your light always shine bright and bring light where there is darkness and blessings where there are curses. Always remember that you are loved and that is the power that changed you and will help you to change the world.”
When Yossi woke up that morning, he called David on the phone. “David, Avreimi came to me in a dream. It was he who gave me this power. I must use it carefully and bring light where there is darkness. I hope that we can continue to meet so that you might guide me as I grow and discover what my true purpose here is.”
“With much happiness”, David said. “We will learn together and who knows, maybe someday Avreimi will return, and we will sit with him and learn the true meaning of the words that we read.”