The wrong turn
I read a nice story in the Living Jewish magazine, published weekly by Chabad. The story took place around thirty years ago. A man, let’s call him Mr. Fogel, was driving home late one night from work, listening to a lecture from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In the lecture, the Rebbe quoted the Baal Shem Tov, who said that a person can come into this world just to do a favor for another.
The man became lost in thought. I wonder what my mission is in life? His eyes began to tear and he begged Hashem to help him fulfill his personal mission on this world. Just then he noticed that with all his daydreaming, he missed his exit. He got off at the next exit and was about to make a U-turn when he noticed an old man standing in front of a car with the hood up. He looked around to determine if it was safe, rolled down the window and asked the man if he needed some help. The old man said, “the tow truck just came, but he wants $600 to tow it to my house, which is just 15 minutes away. Can you help me push it about 100 feet to a parking spot, so I won’t get a ticket”? Fogel said, “Sure I can help you”. Fogel pushed the car to a nearby spot and began walking back to his car.
The old man said, “do you mind taking me back home? I’ve been here for awhile and I haven’t seen one taxi pass by”. Fogel figured it’s only 15 minutes away, so he agreed. On the way back, the man was so appreciative. He said, “Now all I have to do is get my wife and order a cab to the airport”. The old man looked at his watch, “It’s pretty late. I hope we can get a cab. Our plane to Florida is leaving soon. We’re going to visit our daughter”. Fogel surmised that the man was telling the truth and offered to take the old couple to the airport. The couple was so appreciative, showering Fogel with compliments the whole way to the airport.
As they pulled up to the Terminal, the old man pulled out a $100 bill to give Fogel. Fogel refused! “No way, I’m so happy I was able to help. It felt so good to help you out”. The old man was insistent. Finally Fogel said to him, “You’re jewish right”? The old man confirmed he was. “So if you want to pay me, put on tefillin for a month”. The old man refused. “Mitzvos? No way. No mitzvos for me”. So Fogel said, “Fine, I told you already that I don’t need payment. But if you want to pay me, go buy a pair of tefillin and put them on whenever you could”. The man locked eyes with Fogel and said, “Alright, I’ll do it”. They sort of had a hand shake and the man got out to get a luggage cart.
Just then, the old man’s wife leaned over to Fogel and whispered to him, as she’s wiping away her tears, “You’re a miracle. A real miracle from Heaven. You know, my husband and I are holocaust survivors. When we came to America we decided that we wouldn’t do anything Jewish, because we were angry at God. Ever since the kids are out of the house, I’ve been yearning to do things like I remember from my mother’s house, like lighting candles before Shabbos. But every time I mention it to my husband, he refuses, saying, “No mitzvos”.
“Last night I felt so bad about it that I did something I haven’t done since the war…I prayed. I begged God to please send a miracle to change my husband’s mind. Then you came! You are a miracle, and I’m sure this Friday night I will have candles”.
Rebbe Nachman says that prayer is synonymous with miracles (Torah 7). They are the same thing. Prayer changes the course of nature like a miracle. We think it’s silly to believe in miracles, but they happens all the time. People are experiencing the miracles of their prayers at every moment. There are millions of these stories. Fogel prayed for his favor and he got it. The old lady prayed for her mitzvos and she got them.
Never stop praying and never stop believing in the miracles of our prayers!