20. Three’s a Charm
In terms of getting ultra-Orthodox Jews off the road, three, thank God, was a charm! Specifically, my pointed words eventually hit the mark with one young couple, who I found walking not only on the street, but on the side with their backs to approaching traffic. Regarding this couple, after, to no avail, relaying my first two points (about the danger of walking in the street and Moshiach being kept away due to egotism), I directed my focus to the young lady. To her, I said something like the following: if her husband did not insist that they both use the sidewalk, such would be a sign that he had, for her, not true love. After all, his lack of insisting would be endangering her as well as any future offspring by his setting himself up as a poor role model. (From the couple’s young appearance and the woman’s traditional headpiece, they seemed a recently married pair who, perhaps, had no children yet.) After my sharp words, this is what happened:
For a moment, the husband continued to walk at his same pace on the street beside his wife, who was at his right and closer to the sidewalk. Then, suddenly, the wife became fearful: she started to speed walk aggressively and abruptly turned into her husband’s left side so to direct him, quickly and at a sharp angle, across the street. Then, he, infected by his wife’s fearfulness, picked up his pace to match his wife’s and started anxiously speed-walking alongside her. As they crossed and arrived at the street’s far side, they jumped onto the sidewalk, and then, breaking into a run across that front yard, dashed into that very home! (While I did not know this when I first approached these strangers, I happened to have spoken to them mere yards from their destination, which was a large home that likely belonged to relatives with whom they were visiting for Passover. The home, designed for a large family, surely did not belong to this young couple.)
Of course, I was not in that woman’s mind to know for certain what was going on. However, because I was not physically threatening, this is what I speculate: after having made my third and final point about her husband not loving her were he not to insist that she use the sidewalk, she must have noticed that my words did not penetrate her husband’s psyche. After all, he continued walking as he had before, without escorting her onto the sidewalk as he should have if he had her best interests at heart.
Then, perhaps, because she was a young bride, with thoughts predominating her mind such as those involving her husband’s love for her, she realized that I was right: her husband could not, in fact, really love her if he did not insist that she not endanger herself. So, in the passage of mere seconds, she, then, may have feared that she had made a mistake in marrying this man who did not truly love her. This was too much for her to bear, so she panicked and fled toward home. Moreover, as her husband panicked alongside her in response, he became less and less of a man in her eyes so that, when she hit her home’s front yard, she bolted into a run (with him, again, then matching her quickened pace).