by Humans of Jerusalem
"When I was born, my Godfather was the holy Baba Sali. He named me Shimon after Rabbi Shimon Bar Yokhai, and blessed me that I would always have the strength to do the right thing even when everyone else wasn't. I fought in all the big wars, first as a foot soldier in the Golani brigade's spec-ops division and then as an officer in the Matkal commando unit, and throughout my service I always remembered that blessing. Now I'm semi-retired and spend my time selling my drawings on the street. People tell me they're very good, and that if I went to America I could become famous. But who wants to be famous? I've seen the type of people that are famous today, who needs people like that? All you have to do to be rich is to always have a cent more than you need, and that makes me richer than most. Besides, Jerusalem is my home. To leave the holiest city in the world to make money? I'd have to be crazy!"
He was born in Europe and taught himself to draw at a very young age. He is well-known around town for gathering crowds of teenagers walking by late at night and teaching them Divrei Torah. One of our photographers recalls a particular night, coincidentally (or not) right before Lag Ba'omer, where he sat with him and a friend for an hour learning. When he walked off, the man had disappeared, and the name he gave, Shimon Ben Yochai, made some of us speculate it may indeed have been the holy tzaddik.
"There's a street performer I keep seeing around that I took an instant dislike to, and from then on, I just kept finding more reasons to hate him. Then one day I remembered something my dad taught me. When you like someone, they can dump their entire plate of food in your lap and it won't bother you. But if you don't, the way they hold their fork will annoy you. And I started trying to find good things to say about him. I realized I like his awesome beard. I like how friendly he is with everyone. And suddenly one day, I was walking by and I thought, "His music is actually pretty good!". I can't even remember why I didn't like him."
"I served as an officer in the armored corps for 4 years. Now I teach a pre-army prep school. I think it's the best use of the skills and experience I got from my service, to be able to pass them on to the next generation. The most important lesson I could teach them? Sometimes, when the rope tries to knock you down, what counts isn't how far you get. You win simply by staying upright. And if you try hard enough, you'll get to the other side, sooner or later. All you gotta do is hang in there".
Somewhere out there, there's a street photographer telling your story in a picture you may never know they took, and thousands of miles away, someone sees it and smiles. And the world continues to turn.