Three thousand years ago, Avraham Avinu opened his tent to travelers in the desert, inviting them in for a cold drink and a hot meal while taking the opportunity to teach them about the existence of Hashem. In an almost exact replication, a true ma’aseh avos siman l’banim, Shachar and Orli Shamai are offering weary walkers the gift of fresh, cold water at the top of a hilly street in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, while quenching travelers’ souls with divrei Torah and inspiration.
I met the Shamais’ residence long before I met the Shamais themselves. That is, we became acquainted through their water machine. As a long-time daily walker, I race up the hill that comprises Nachal Ayalon each and every day, taking in the sights and sounds as I listen to shiurim on my MP3 player. But one day I noticed something new. Right there, on the main thoroughfare, someone had hung a large, attractive sign advertising “Free Water! Also approved for use on Shabbos!” I stopped and gawked. Sure enough, overnight, a water cooler had been installed on the outside wall of a private home, along with a cup dispenser and even a convenient little garbage can to complete the enterprise.
“Wow!” I thought. “This is incredible! What a display of ahavas Yisrael!” I found myself blessing the complete strangers who were providing me with such a treat every morning, moved by their anonymous generosity.
The Ayalon watering hole became a focal point of my walk. I began to use it as a mile marker: Okay, okay. Just push a little more and then you’ll get your delicious drink! For awhile, I thought I had stumbled upon the best-kept secret in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Then I found out that the water machine was far from a secret. I met complete strangers there, as well as good friends. People were filling water bottles, baby bottles, or just leisurely sipping a single drink. Soon, more treats began to appear at the water fountain: CDs of popular speakers, shemiras halashon pamphlets, a moving placard reminding us, in Hebrew, of how much Hashem loves us and waits for us to do teshuvah. Clearly, the water machine was not just an isolated act, but an all-encompassing project intent on spreading love and chesed within klal Yisrael.
I should really do an article on these people, I thought, as I gave my daily hosts yet another brachah. This family is definitely bringing Moshiach!