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ב"ה

incredulous Divine Providence

Friday, 16 February, 2024 - 4:13 am

In this week’s parsha the reason for our creation is spelled out. G-d’s mission statement for us.

‘Make for me a ‘Mikdash’ sanctuary and I will dwell in them (in the people)’.

G-d wants us to create a space for Him in this physical world.

The ultimate fulfillment of Hashem’s plan is that Hashem seeks to ‘reside within us’.

When our minds are acutely aware of Him. When our hearts are filled with longing and reverence for Him. And most importantly when our deeds align symmetrically with His wishes. All of this invites the presence of G-d to reside here on earth, the fulfillment of His ‘desire’.

This week I received an email that expressed the way Hashem dwells in the heart of the young Jew who wrote to me.

It started off as a simple email.

A young man who lives part time in Israel and part time in Thailand who wanted to say hi to me and to thank me and tell me how meaningful our connection is.

‘I was a typical Israeli living in Thailand, without awareness about Hashem and His Torah’.

‘A family member pressured me to go to Synagogue for Yom Kippur. I joined your services at Beth Elisheva and was inspired and uplifted. Your passionate explanations of the prayers touched me deeply in my heart. Particularly, the high-spirited singing and dancing at the climax of Yom Kippur just at the end of Neilah elated me.

It was on that Yom Kippur that I connected to Hashem, to my Jewish soul and started becoming more Torah & Mitzva observant’.

Then the email took a leap upwards to a different dimension and filled my heart and mind with thanksgiving to Hashem for the incredulous Divine Providence that was shared with me.

Here is the story that he told me.

‘The inspiration of Yom Kippur eight years ago gradually caused changes in my life. A year ago, I began to keep Shabbat, wear a kipah, tzitzit, keep kosher etc.,

During the year prior to this commitment, out of nowhere, I would find myself humming the song ‘for I keep the Shabbat, Hashem will guard me’.

It was as if an inner voice was telling me ‘You are aware of your relationship with Hashem for seven years now, you have no excuses for continuing to live in a secular way without the sanctity of Shabbat’.

I had this deep and urgent feeling that my life is now dependent on keeping Shabbat.

On October 7th of this year, the truth of that inner voice was validated.

I grew up in ‘Otef Aza’ the ‘Gaza envelope’ and my parents and family still live there.

Hashem wanted to show me his kindness and truth and I was there in ‘Otef Aza’ on October 7th.

Here is where the chain of three and a half miracles begins to unfold. There is no other way to explain what happened to me other than an display of ‘Divine Providence’ in full view.

The first ‘half miracle’ is that I wasn’t at ‘THE party’. All my friends were there. Many are tragically no longer with us. If I had not yet changed my lifestyle to one of Torah observance, I would have very likely have been there with them.

The other threesome of miracles are as follows:

Because I didn’t grow up Mitzvah observant, I know that there are many details that I am not aware of. Every Friday morning I study some laws of Shabbat observance and thus I steadily advance in my knowledge and implementation.

On Friday morning October 6th, I studied the laws of Shabbat. By ‘coincidence’ the laws I studied were about the limitation of how far one may walk outside of the city limits on Shabbat.

In the moshav that I grew up in, there is no minyan. Once I started observing Shabbat, I would walk 8 kilometers to the nearby moshav that does have a Synagogue and minyan. After seeing the law that prohibits walking more than (approx) 1 km outside the city, I resolved that I would sleep over in a moshav with a minyan rather than walk to synagogue from my home on Shabbat morning which is prohibited due do the distance.

I asked a childhood friend in a moshav that has a Synagogue if I could stay with him. He said yes. I packed up my shabbat hotplate, kosher food, and anything else I would need for Shabbat and drove over to my friend. On the way my friend called me and apologized. From the tone of his voice I understood that he had a girlfriend coming over for the weekend and it wouldn’t be convenient to have me there as well. Although I always provide him with hospitality when he visits Thailand, I overcame my disappointment and cheerfully told him that he should enjoy his weekend and I would easily find another place.

I then pulled over at the side of the road and searched the internet for ‘tzimmerim’ (literally ‘rooms’ for rent) in moshavim that have a Synagogue. I located a motel in Kibbutz Beeri, but they didn’t answer their phones, perhaps it was too late in the afternoon.

I finally found a motel in a different moshav with a synagogue and went there to settle in. I called a friend I know in that moshav and he picked me up to take me to his home for coffee. After we finished our chat he took me back to my motel. A short while later I realized that I had left the keys to my car at my friend’s home. I called him and he said he would bring them right over. Looking at the time, I realized that my friend had no time to bring me the keys and arrive back home before Shabbat. My friend said, ‘I don’t keep shabbat so there is no problem for me to come over’. I explained to my friend that I could not take a favor from him if he was going to violate Shabbat on my behalf. My friend suggested that he would bring the keys to me by foot at the Synagogue that evening. I explained to him that this too wouldn’t fit the laws of Shabbat. He told me ‘You have gone crazy’ and burst out laughing, I laughed together with him and that is how we ended our phone call, laughing hysterically.

At 6:30 am on October 7th I was in the motel and heard the barrage of missiles flying over the area on the way to central Israel. As someone who grew up in Otef Aza, I knew that this was a very unusual barrage of rockets, quite unlike the ‘usual’ ones. I left my motel to go outside, thinking of climbing up on the roof to see what is happening. The former leader of the commandos lives across the street from the motel, and he too came out of his house at that same time. I know him from my childhood. I asked him what is going on. The commander told me that he suspects there is going to be a massive incursion of terrorists from the Gaza border. He did not yet know that the main roads of the region had already been captured by the terrorists.

At that moment I thought to myself, if there will be a terrorist attack on the villages in this region, it is a true case of ‘pickuach nefesh’ danger to life which pushes aside the prohibitions of Shabbat, and I had best be near my parents to protect them.

I realized that my keys were not with me. I couldn’t go to my parents. The biggest contribution I could give to my people right now was to join the ‘security response team’ of the moshav I was in, which I did.

Here are the three open miracles that saved my life.

If I would not have discovered the laws of Shabbat prohibiting walking more than a kilometer outside my village, I would have been walking along the roads at 6:30 am, and would have met the terrorist filled pick-up trucks as they made their murderous way through the area.

My friend in the moshav I wanted to stay in, heard about the incursion into his moshav in the early hours of the morning. He and his girlfriend jumped into their car and tried to escape. They were shot at. My friend escaped miraculously unscathed, while his friend was shot and critically wounded. I shudder when I think that I would have likely been in the passenger seat if I would have been there with him.

I wanted to go to my parents but didn’t have my keys. What we didn’t know at that time was that the roads were being manned by the terrorists. People who tried to drive from place to place were shot at and killed. This would have happened to me if I had tried to get to my parents.

The note now moves into a reflective tone.

‘When I hummed to myself for a year before starting to keep Shabbat ‘when I keep Shabbat, Hashem protects me’ I had a deep feeling that for me this would not just be a song, but it was a message that I must take seriously.

Thank you Almighty G-d the Creator of the world.

And thank you rabbi for being one of the messengers of Hashem in my journey that saved my physical life and spiritual life.

I share this story with you to express my loving gratitude to you… and share with you how unbeknownst to you, through your passionate leading of prayers and teaching Torah you are sometimes saving souls not just spiritually, but even physically….’

Dear Friend, I felt compelled to share this inspiring story of Divine Providence exactly as it was shared with me by the person who experienced it firsthand.

During the current month of Adar, we are instructed to increase in joy.

It takes effort, especially during this very trying times, to focus on the rays of light and of goodness and to fill our consciousness with positivity, joy and optimism.

May Hashem bring an abundance of light and joy to the world.

May Hashem bless and protect our soldiers, bring home our hostages, heal our wounded, and bless Israel and the world with secure and stable peace.

We want Mashiach NOW.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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