Sunday, January 7

The Right Shoes

I am an extremist.
Surprise!
Whatever I do, I end up doing to the nth degree.
So nine years ago, when Mr Kasamba bought me a treadmill, I couldn’t stop running. Thank goodness it was stationary, because with the amount I ran, I would have ended up on another continent. I’d start out by saying that I’d run for a half an hour and two hours later I’d still be on it. After a few months, I started noticing that I had pain in my shins, so what would a normal person do?
I couldn’t tell you, I can only tell you what I did.
I would take painkillers before I ran so the pain was bearable. BTW, I have a very high pain threshold, so things have to break down before I see to them. Soon enough, the pain crossed the threshold of normality and I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I couldn’t even stand anymore.
So I shlepped myself to the doctor who x-rayed my legs and told me with an awed expression that I had shin splints. He was awed, because you can only get shin splints if you are an athlete and over do it. Mine were so bad that both of my shinbones were covered with minute fractures and it hurt just to stand on them. The doc also said that it was really important to wear the right shoes. I thought, (ding!)
" He is sooo right! I must go shopping!"

Part of my treatment was to have physiotherapy, to stretch the stranglehold my calf muscles had around my shin bones to alleviate the pain and the pressure from them.

One fine day, I walked into LA Fitness on Golders Green Road, to go to see my physiotherapist. She wasn’t there but the front desk told me that her stand in was excellent. I sure hoped so.

I walked into the treatment room and was face to face with a stunning blonde girl with a friendly smile. As she was beating me up, we started talking. Somehow the conversation shifted to the Jewish Learning Exchange, which is a division of Or Sameach that happens to share the same building as LA Fitness. I told her what an amazing place it is and she asked me what association I had with them. So I informed her that I tutored there every Tuesday evening. She got all excited and asked if I would tutor her as well.

Now, there was no way I would have ever known this girl was Jewish, so I got quite a shock. I told her that as I had the same learning partner for years that would be impossible for me to learn with her on Tuesday nights at the JLE, but that she should call the JLE and arrange to have another tutor learn with her. She was adamant that I was the only person that she would want to learn with. I asked her why she felt that strongly about me when I could easily be the most rubbish teacher ever.

I will never forget what she said. With confidence as she pointed to my things in the corner of that little room, she said
“Anyone who wears shoes like that, has got to know what they are talking about!”

Impressed (and flattered!) with her tenacity, I agreed to start learning with her on Monday afternoons at my home.
She always showed up on time and soaked up whatever I taught her. Her enthusiasm was infectious and she became a greater source of chizuk to me than I’m sure I was to her. I remember that I t was right before Purim and she was overjoyed to learn about Esther and her plight. At the end of our session, she told me that was going to Israel the next week and would call me to continue upon her return.
She never called.
Pesach came and went that year and I hadn’t heard from her, so I just assumed that she had had enough. I thought,
“You win some, you lose some.”

Years flew by with no word from her.
In the interim, I had had another child and married off my regular learning partner. Soon after the birth of Cucumber, I found myself once more in the JLE on Tuesday nights.
I was standing at reception schmoozing with the secretary waiting for my new learning partner to arrive when I saw her.

At first I didn’t recognise her because whereas before, I couldn’t tell whether or not this girl was Jewish at all, now there was no mistaking that aidelkeit and the refined deportment that said ‘I’m frum’.

She looked as magnificent as ever. She rushed over to me, her gusto as evident as always, and embraced me in a huge hug. She said in her animated way, “Kasamba! I’m so excited to see you! I wanted to call you so much but I had lost your number! When I left you to go to Israel all those years ago, I enrolled myself in a seminary and I’ve been there ever since! Don’t you see? You inspired me so much, I wanted to learn everything!” Tears stung at my eyes as she continued, “And now I’m here visiting and I’m teaching someone myself!” Hearing this, I knew in my heart that she had surpassed her teacher.
Her existence now would be an undiluted, pure life of Torah.

I knew that I was just the tiny spark that ignited her ‘Pintele Yid’ and caused it to burst into flames.
And THAT’s why it’s so important to wear the right shoes.

29 Comments:

At 2:16 PM, Blogger the_laamb said...

bein the first comment on your post i have gotta say its a great story.

Its amazing what inspiration we give to others without realising ourselves that it was there in the first place.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger exsemgirl said...

Great story.

Having worked in kiruv myself, it is an amazing thing to know that your efforts make such long lasting effects.

Hey I didnt know that the JLE was a division of ohr someach! Good to know-I am a fan of some of their shiurim, especially Rabbi T.

And hey, good to know the power of a good pair of shoes.... Thanks for an excuse to go shopping :P

(ps just noticed no link to me but to every other tom dick and harry on the planet...tryin not to take it too personally :(. Anything I have to do to qualify?)

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

sniff. beautiful. sniff.

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger the only way i know said...

Kas...
Nuuuuu..DESCRIBE the shoooess!!!
LOL!

Exsem girl..I think your name needs to be either Tom, Dick or Harry..lol...try Peter or Jane... :P - Good Luck! lol!

 
At 8:47 PM, Blogger Jewish Smörgåsbord said...

Amazing story! It must be such an overwhelming feeling to know you had such a positive impact on a persons life.

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

What a great story!! Thanks for sharing it!

 
At 1:07 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Love the story and the humor:)

 
At 1:40 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

The topic of wearing good, and comfortable shoes is one that I chime in on each and every day.

As a person with wide feet, it has always been difficult to find the right shoes, meaning comfortable. For years, I struggled with nice looking high heels for work, resulting in sore feet.

Your story is both relevant and inspirational.

 
At 3:24 AM, Blogger the sabra said...

i cant believe im saying this but...


...i miss you on my blog.



may hashem bless you with everything you want and need..and may these blessings be showered upon you in a revealed manner.

 
At 3:26 AM, Blogger the sabra said...

walla and now i just read this post and im kickin myself in the shins for not readin ur dog on a blaily dasis.

 
At 3:39 AM, Blogger SJ said...

Wowww, good story. I wish my clothes inspired people to become frum! Instead, they mostly make people shield their eyes from the bright colours. Speaking of my clothes (and shoes), I've gotta go jam them into a suitcase before I leave in two hours...yikes!

 
At 4:01 AM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

Yeah baby, it's all in the shoes!

 
At 4:21 AM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

everything happens for a reason!

all the better to buy more shoes ;)

hope you recovered from the over-running!

 
At 5:48 AM, Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

This post, like all of your posts, is just the best peice o' reading there is around.

 
At 6:54 AM, Blogger Chana said...

Awesome story!!

I have to admit, I hate shoe shopping.

I wear a US 9.5W

(US J-blogland collectively sucks in its breath and nods in sympathy)

P.S. Is your bday around now? ;)

 
At 8:39 AM, Blogger Chana said...

RUN FORREST RUN!!!

(sorry, it's late and I'm being a brat!)

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

The most incredible things seem to happen around you.
What a lovely not-intended-kiruv-story.

 
At 5:57 PM, Blogger yingerman said...

wow talk about long term rewards....I mean the shoes of course ;)

 
At 3:21 AM, Blogger TRW said...

Kasamba, I was so inspired that I went to Aerosoles and bought the cutest brown shoes!! And all 'cause who knows what a kiddush Hashem they'll make (well...maybe there was a little selfishness involved in buying the shoes...or maybe the fact that buying textbooks is waaaaaaaay too expensive, so I needed to buy something else...)

Either way, Kol HaKavod to you, Kasamba.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger IsraLuv said...

an amazing story... and i had to link your post to my blog...I hope more people will get the chance to read this wonderful and moving story.

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger RR said...

What an awesome story, K!

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

The Laamb:
Thank you, you're so right!

Exsem:
The Jle is amazing!
About ythe blogroll, excuse my oversight- you're up!

Kish:
Pass me a tissue, babes!

Towik:
They were actually... red!

JewishShmorg:
It is!

Raggedy Mom:
Thank you!

socialworker:
Thanks!

Barbara;
May you always walk in comfort!

Sabra:
Oops! I'm going on your blog now!

Sj:
Have a safe trip!

Sara with no H;
You said it!

Sarah:
It does and I did!
Shpitzle:
You are so sweet!

Chana:
Good memory you have! It's IYH next week!
That Forrest comment was the funniest comment EVER!!!!

Prag;
Why, thanks, Prag!

Yingerman:
Of course;)

TRW:
It's all in the shoes!

Israluv:
Thanks so much! BUT I can't get onto your blog!

RR:
Thanks R!

 
At 4:50 AM, Blogger Bas~Melech said...

What a story. I always knew Kasamba was funny, but here she can draw tears too! I also wondered what kind of shoes they were...

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger Bonnie B said...

What a great story! It is true teh rigth shoes can changes your life-- just ask Cinderella

 
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