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Near Fist Fight in Shul – Eye Witness Account

By Baruch Gordon
3/3/2011, 12:00 AM

I saw it with my own eyes. It was in the middle of Shachat morning services on Tuesday. A friend of mine "A" turned to a "new face" that I didn't recognize in shul (synagogue) and said, "Why did you do that to me?" The new face answered back with an insult. The two began pushing each other, growling, and their fists were clinched when others stepped in to separate them.

It took some four grown men to separate them because despite initial efforts to end the dispute, they were determined to have it out. The chazzan (cantor) stopped the services, the eyes of some 60 people of the minyan were focused on the raucous ruckus in the middle of shul, and the two men, in their 50's, were now separated but still exchanging insults. 

Honestly, I was not believing that this was happening in Bet El.

I know my friend "A" to be a normal guy and have never seen this side of him. The new face has a bit of a rough look on him. But still, in Bet El, the place of so many Torah scholars and so many fine Torah institutions? The place of idealism, of patriotic sacrifice for the good of the country, the place that sends its children to the finest IDF units? A near fist fight in shul? How the mighty have fallen, I thought to myself.

Well ladies and gentlemen, the story has a pleasant ending. I made it to one of the smaller, late minyans in the same shul today. We were only about 15 people in shul. At one point, I turned around and saw on the back row and sight that I couldn't believe was happening. 

New Face was in the back row, and "A" walked over to him and began speaking to him. "A" clasped New Face's hand and was pouring out his heart to him with a look of great remorse and sincerity. "A" placed his left arm on New Face's back in a friendly embrace, continued shaking his right hand, and continued speaking with great enthusiasm and movement, while New Face listened intently and nodded. 

At the end of their exchange, they embraced each other, nodded and parted.

My heart was warmed. I was consoled. The ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness.