I was first introduced to Rabbi Rodal way back in sixth grade. I had just moved to California from S. Louis, Missouri. I was coming from a modern orthodox school and entering a Lubavitch school. And though I was a Lubavitcher myself, I was nervous as to how I would be accepted.
All that nervousness was dispelled when Rabbi Rodal pulled up to pick me up for carpool. I got in the van (which had a mezuzah) and was greeted by the friendliest face I have ever scene. See Rabbi Rodal had a very unique smile. His beard was so big you couldn’t see his mouth. The only way to tell if he was smiling was by looking at his eyes which I guess makes it that much more meaningful and powerful. but the smile from his eyes was bigger and brighter than any smile anybody else could do.
Anyway, I get into the van on my first day and am greeted by Rabbi Rodal.
“Good morning Boruch. I’m Rabbi Rodal, I’ll be your bus driver.”
I sit down nervously on the back bench (I’m the shy type). About two minutes into the ride Rabbi Rodal speaks up again.
“Boruch, I hope you don’t mind but I’m not going to be driving through any tunnels on the way to school.”
This seemed a bit strange to me as as far as I knew there weren’t any tunnels on the way to school anyway.
“Is that okay with you?” He asked
I shyly nodded my head.
“Okay good.” He continued. “Because I don’t want us to get Carpool Tunnel Sundrome.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Rabbi Rodal smiled back.
That, ladies and gentleman, is how Rabbi Rodal helped a shy, nervous boy begin the journey to becoming a strong confident man.