I stayed up late last night to finish reading Mitch Albom's newest book: have a little faith. He wrote about his rabbi, and the rabbi's request for Mitch to give his eulogy. It was a heartwarming story, one I would recommend to anyone.
As I finished the book I thought about my own experience with a Jewish rabbi...not nearly as heartwarming, but true.
Brooklyn is an interesting place. I've heard NYC called a melting pot, but it's a melting pot with very distinct borders. On one side of the street you are very much in the 'hood' and on the other side of the street you find yourself in the Jewish neighborhood. As missionaries we didn't work in the Jewish neighborhood - but we did walk through it to get to the other side of the 'hood.'
One day my companion and I were walking quietly through the Jewish neighborhood. It was the Jewish sabbath day and there were many people out, headed to worship in their synagogue.
We passed a school yard where a few kids were playing baseball. The kid up to bat hit the ball over the fence, and across the street, where the ball rolled to a stop by my feet. "Hey, will you throw that ball back to us?" one of kids asked.
"Sure," I said. I picked the baseball up and threw it back to the kids. Except that I didn't throw it far enough. Rather than go over the fence, the baseball hit the fence and bounced back...barely missing the head of a Jewish rabbi who was walking down the street. Really. It was a close call. He gave me a disapproving look and I did my best to shield my name tag with my bag.
My companion snickered and I mumbled, "I can see it now. The headlines in the paper tomorrow will read, 'Mormon missionary kills Jewish rabbi with baseball.'"
I let the rabbi walk to the end of the street before I ran across and threw the baseball back to the boys.
It was then my future was determined: I will not play professional baseball.