"From Moshe till Moshe, there arose none like Moshe." (famous Jewish folk saying)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Coincidence is G-d’s middle name

Today my wife and I took a short morning trip to Yaffo to get our sons electric piano repaired. Because of a recent archeological discovery, the road configurations had been rerouted. It is hard enough navigating the roads in this city and we were unable to figure out exactly how to reach our destination. So we parked a few blocks away and with the roland piano on my shoulder, we walked a few blocks to the music repair shop. It's an amazing little store in the middle of ancient Yaffo. After taking care of all the paper work, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and took a little stroll through the streets of Yaffo. We stood for a while on the promenade overlooking the beautiful ocean, noticing the colors, the birds, the sand and tried to appreciate awesome power of the ocean. Then we walked through the small narrow alleys of this ancient city, poking our heads into a few art galleries, and just enjoying each others company on this beautiful day.

At one point during our walk, we had the choice of going right or left at a fork in the path. As a compromise, we took the middle path that was really not a path at all. As we made our way up this hill that reached a fantastic overlook of Tel Aviv and Yaffo, I noticed a group of students who were sitting on the grass learning. Whenever I see a group of kids, regardless of their ages, I always stop. It dives SB crazy! As I was looking at this group, I could sense that this was probably one of the many birthright groups who have traveled to Israel for winter break. I was looking at the rabbi/teacher and yes, he looked familiar. He was wearing dark sunglasses and I was not that close to see his face. The guard was in the back and I asked him if this group was from Brooklyn College. He said yes! I then asked, is the name of the Rabbi, Reuven? Again he said yes. I realized that Rabbi Reuven was one of graduates of the program I work for. I have visited him a few times during my travels. We embraced, exchanged shalom aleychems (greetings), phone numbers and left him with a great story to share with his group that there is no such thing as coincidence, especially when you take the middle path.

But there is more...

When I finally got back to my office I had to call JEWEL for one of my former NCSYers who is in Israel on a separate birthright trip. She plans on staying a few extra days and would like to learn a little while she is here. So I looked on the Internet, found the number and placed my call. The woman who answered had a bubbiish voice, was very kind and had all sorts of helpful information to share. Of course after we sorted thru the important details, she then started playing Jewish geography. “Where are you from?” Boston, I replied. I rarely say Lowell because most people have never heard of it. “Boston,” she exclaimed. “I am from Waltham.” Waltham is small town about 25 minutes from Lowell. It is most famous for as the city with one of the most expensive college tuitions in the country, Brandeis. “Lowell, did you know my Uncle Hal Shmichels? (name has been changed) It just so happened that I did know her uncle and this is when the story becomes amazing. Her uncle was a disabled veteran. He and 5 other disabled Jewish veterans some how ended up a run down veterans home in Lowell. Their disabilities were not physical, but rather psychological. When our shul rabbi found out, he made sure that they got kosher food and lots of other things that they really appreciated. One thing that I know they loved was coming to shul. The rabbi would pick them up each morning and afternoon for minyan. They loved the environment, the community and the rabbi would usually be sure they had breakfast and dinner in shul. It was a great chesed and it helped the minyan. From time to time, the rabbi would ask me to fill in and pick the veterans up for shul. It was an easy mitzvah to help him with.
I shared this story with the bubbie on the other line and I could tell that she was crying. She said, “so few people who knew my Uncle, my mothers brother.” She continued, “I am not sure if you know this, but Uncle Hal passed away last year. He was not alone when he died. He even had kippa on his head when he died. His last wishes were to buried here in Israel, a wish the rabbi (who had since left the community) helped to fulfill. “I am so happy we have had this opportunity to speak. You see, his Yartzeit is next week and if you could come to beit shemesh for the askara, (memorial service) it would be so meaningful to my mother.”
So many people could have answered the phone at Jewel. So many people could have called Jewel. But I was the one who called and the Bubbi, Uncle Hal niece answered, a week before his yartzit.

My teacher once taught me that there is no such thing as coincidence. Coincidence, he continued is G-d’s middle name.

Such a nice post. It's good to have you back.
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