Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yisroel Shemtov has a big heart, II

Quick recap: Yisroel Shemtov and I had made up that I would take the Rebbe's kapote to Milwaukee, and TRS called the rabbi to cancel.

Meanwhile, I was at my sister's house doing laundry. I figured, even without the kapote it still makes sense to rent a car. Otherwise we'll need to pay a fortune to take taxis to and from the airport and to and from the wedding. I figured I would need a car for two days, which would cost around $100. I called all the bochurim who were flying from New York, and they all agreed to chip in for a car if I drove everyone to the airport. I made my reservation, and moved on.

A few hours later I get a call from TRS. He had left Yisroel Shemtov a voicemail saying that he regretfully would be married without the kapote. Yisroel Shemtov called him back and refused to hear of it. The good rabbi would pay for the car, and TRS would need only to pay the $100. I told TRS that Yisroel's paying for the car wasn't really necessary, because that bochurim had all agreed to pay for it. We decided to tell the bochurim the whole story, and ask them to please give what they had pledged towards the car to cover the kapote.

At 3:25 I stood in front of the Shemtov residence and called Yisroel's cell phone. A minute later he stood at the door.
"What time is your flight?" he asked.
"7:00," I replied.
"So why are you here so early?"
"Well, I want to take public transportation, so I need to be on the train at 4:00."
"You can't take public transportation. The kapote might get lost."
"Fine," I acquiesced, "I'll take a taxi."
"If you're driving, you can sleep for another few hours. Come inside."

So, he showed me a bed in the back of his house, which I joyfully inhabited until 5:10, when he woke me up to go to mikveh. After mikveh, it seemed that everything was settled besides for one small issue. "I don't have enough cash to pay for a taxi... Perhaps you can lend me..." I stammered.
"What taxi?" Yisroel retorted, "I have my own limo."

So we drove to the airport, while Yisroel regaled me with tales of how the kapote was almost lost and how I better watch myself. When we arrived, he gave me $20 "just in case," and told me that he would pay for my taxi back from the airport. Because of me, he now has a new rule for kapote carriers: no public transportation!

The trip to Milwaukee was lovely. It was nice to be back in the Midwest where people are friendly and the roads are drivable. The five bochurim each contributed $20, and TRS got his kapote for free. We checked out the Chabad house in Mequon (freaking huge!), the Miller Beer factory (free beer!) and some Art Museum on the lakefront (shaped like a boat, right off of Wisconsin Ave.). The wedding was even better. We danced our hearts out, and only knocked over the mechitzah three or four times. But whatever. Back to the main thread of our story.

Upon arriving in Crown Heights (driven by the Moshe, the most reliable and cheapest taxi driver out there--call him at 917.951.1973) I immediately went to Yisroel Shemtov's office, to give him the kapote. I felt pretty horrible asking him to pay for my taxi from the airport. After all, even without the kapote, I'd need to get myself back from the airport. I figured I'd have him pay only half that ride and tell him that there was another bochur with me in the car.
Here was my cheshbon:
$100 --kaopte fee
-$58 --car rental
-$15 --taxi
So I'd give him $27 bucks, plus the $20 he had lent me.

I gave him the kapote, safe and sound, together with $47.
"Are you giving me too much money? Don't mess with me. By me, a deal is a deal. I said I'd pay for the taxi. How much do you really owe me?"

All plans about saying there was another guy with me in the car flew out of my head. I let him give me back $15.
"Don't forget about the other part of our deal [i.e. the scrupulous behavior I gotta do tomorrow]. If you cheat me and do more than we made up, I'll only love you more. No. It's not possible for me to love you any more than I already do. Just you'll make me very happy.

As Zaphod Beebblebrox would say, Yisroel Shemtov is one hell of a guy. Normally he'd enjoy some pleasant banter with a bochur, give him the kaopte the morning of the wedding, and get $100. For this particular customer, he first farbrenged for around an hour. Then got up at 3:20, let a bochur sleep in his house, got up again at 5:10, gave the bochur a ride the airport--after attempting to give him a cup of coffee--leaving the precious kapote in the hands of an unscrupulous young man. And for all this, he made a grand total of $12--and refused to take a penny more.

Of course the wedding was stupendous, but this post is already too long to squeeze in any more. Mazal Tov TRS and Le7! Many happy years together!


  1. awww. I like happy endings! good for you. good for trs. good for yisroel shemtov. good for everyone!

  2. That's an awesome story. And the wedding was magnificent.
    I can't get over that you went to the art museum and I didn't.
    Lastly, is there really a person named Zaphod Beebblebrox, or is that some sort of fictional character?

  3. And they all lived happily ever after.

  4. Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character who is often described as a "hell of a guy."

  5. Such people exist. Take note.

  6. Glad you're enjoying Hitchhiker's
    l'Shana Tova tkasuv v'sichaseim! A good sweet new year for you and those you love

  7. This would have never happened if you weren't gezhe.

  8. e: Yes, they do. And I second Mottel. Hitchiker's is great.

    Nemo: DOn't rain on it. How do you know?

  9. Nemo, you're probably right.

  10. There is only one response to people who talk about yichis (chagas for gezhe):"You think you have yichis mitten dein kleine halbe rebbe zeide? Ich bin ah ihr einikle fin avroohim.

  11. Modeh- that doesn't mean much, seeing as in, we ALL come from him.

  12. eh, Altie, that was kind of the point.

  13. Wonderful story. Have you heard this?

  14. BS"D

    This would have never happened if you weren't gezhe.
    All I can say is that you don't really know Yisroel Shemtov.


Forth shall ye all hold.