Avi Golan was your typical secular moshavnik, raised in the lap of luxury on an affluent moshav surrounded by verdant citrus orchards. Avi and his brother Moshe, one year his junior, were the only two children of their enterprising parents, whose business interests extended far beyond their farmstead on the moshav.
Avi was twenty-three years old. He had completed his army service two years earlier, and was now bored to tears with his life. He had already satiated his curiosity of Israel’s natural wonders by touring and hiking the entire length and breadth of Israel, and now he decided to set his sights abroad, like practically every other Israeli young adult. Avi wanted to travel to remote locations in Asia, Africa, or even South America—and he wanted to take his younger brother Moshe along, too. After consulting with professional hikers and tour guides from all over the world, Avi and Moshe settled on a trip to the jungles of Africa. This was going to be the trip of a lifetime!
Two days before the two brothers took off for Africa, Avi spent an evening out with some of his old army buddies. Yossi Pelach, from south Tel Aviv, who had been the army division’s cook, also joined. But he was no longer the same Yossi; now his face was framed by a neat beard, and a large knitted yarmulke, embroidered with “Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman” in blue thread, adorned his head.
As the evening progressed, the conversation turned to the meaning of the mystical words embroidered on Yossi’s yarmulke, and, as could be expected, the “discussion” soon evolved into a bashing of the “brainwashing that the Chareidim and rabbanim do to innocent guys, who then become baalei teshuvah“. Yossi was left alone to contend with Yigal from Kfar Shmaryahu, Baruch from Ramat Gan, Itzik the kibbutznik, and Avi. Truth to be told, Yossi didn’t have much ammunition with which to return the others’ fire. He had only become a baal teshuvah half a year earlier, and his knowledge of Torah and mitzvos was still rather scant.
Then, at a certain point during the conversation, Avi suddenly launched into a diatribe against G-d and rabbanim, using language unfit to be printed on paper. Yossi felt like he would explode with fury and was on the verge of a most unseemly reaction. To preclude any physical confrontations, he picked himself up and bid his friends a good night. Keep Reading…