Allow me to set up a scenario for you. It’s 2:00 am. You are a young woman walking home alone, late at night. You duck into a dark alley, one of the many in your neighborhood. Suddenly you see another young woman crouched next to a parked car. She is obviously in distress and it looks like she is trying to throw up. Fifteen feet away is a suspicious looking thug-like guy, staring off into the distance, seemingly oblivious to the unfolding drama.
So what do you do? Do you mind your own business and walk away mindful of your own precarious circumstances? Or do you walk over to the distressed young woman, offer help and make sure she isn’t being stalked by the thuggish man? Yikes, right? Dark alley, late at night, suspicious, hovering thug? I’m sure most people would simply keep walking.
This is not some theoretical circumstance. It took place last Wednesday after the Jerusalem Wine Festival in one of Nachlaot’s many alleyways. The distressed young woman was a friend coming back from maybe a glass or two too many consumed at said Festival. The Thug? That was me walking her home. She felt ill and wanted to throw up. I directed her in between two parked cars and stepped away so that she could have some privacy and retain her dignity. That’s when the young Israeli woman walked by and witnessed the scene. At first it looked like she was just going to walk past, but then she doubled back and went straight to my friend and asked her if she was ok. She then checked to see if she knew who I was. She did so assertively and fearlessly, so that I could hear as well.
She was actually surprised to discover that we knew each other – this only underscores her fearlessness. She thought she was walking right into the midst of a potential crime whereby I, the thug, was on the verge of attacking the helpless, slightly inebriated woman. That’s ballsy. I was imagining that she was a Krav Maga instructor in the army or something, but still. Had I been possessed of malicious intent, the involvement of a third party would have most likely scared me off.
I love stories like this. Not just in Israel and not just during the month of Elul as we prepare for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. This was a perfect Leviticus 19:16 moment – ” neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor” meaning, don’t just stand there when your fellow man’s life is threatened. This was totally my “cool thing that happened” of the month at least!
Except for the part where I am cast as a likely thug. Maybe I should wear a bow tie or something. Sigh.