Yesterday I was privileged to attend a remarkable event. Chana, the community’s infertility support organization, held its annual brunch in a local park. About 400 women enjoyed a buffet lunch, with a fresh coffee bar, in a huge marquee. An incredibly brave woman spoke about her struggle to have children, bringing many of the audience to tears and one of the Chana staff made the appeal, giving a vivid description of the decisions which have to be made by the rabbinic leadership of Chana, who have to make the awful ( in the original “full of awe” sense) choice, in the event that there are not enough funds, of which couples they should assist financially with treatments.
The main speaker was Rabbi Shlomo Farhi, of Aish UK, whom I have never heard speak before. He spoke extremely well, managing to combine Torah, emotion, humour and inspiration. His theme was that God runs the entire world and how important it is that we recognise that we have no control over any facet of our lives. To illustrate this, he told the most amazing story:
Some years ago, when Rabbi and Mrs Farhi were newly married, they went to a family gathering on 4th July at the home of his aunt and uncle. They lived on the 30th floor of an apartment block in Manhattan and the family enjoyed the wonderful fireworks exploding, literally, all around them. When it was time to go home, they opened the door and saw that the whole block was trying to leave at the same time, so the young couple decided to stay for a while, while the rest of his family battled their way through the crowds and set off for home in the people carrier.
An hour or so later, the Farhis left to go home. As they were driving along, they saw the family people carrier ahead of them on the highway. Rabbi Farhi was rather surprised that it had taken his father so long to get to this point on the journey, but pulled alongside him and hooted and waved to say hello. His father hooted and waved back and they both continued their journeys home.
The next morning, Rabbi Farhi met his father in shul and asked him, “Abba, how come it took you so long to get home last night?” His father responded, “How do you know how long it took me?”
Rabbi Farhi was rather surprised and said, “Didn’t you recognise me when I pulled alongside you and waved?”
Hearing this, his father went completely white and said, “That was you?? I’d better tell you what happened: Last night, on the way home, I felt myself dozing off at the wheel, when suddenly someone hooted and it woke me up. I hooted back and waved to thank this person.”
At this point, Rabbi Farhi also went completely white, as he realised how short the time frame is between when a person dozes off at the wheel and when he loses control of the car. He had had the merit of saving the lives of his parents and all his siblings! The precision necessary for the two cars to coincide at just that moment is immense – an incredible example of Divine Providence.
Of course, as with all these stories there are undoubtedly counter stories in which bad things happen because a person “just happened” to be there at a particular instant, but this story sent a shiver down my spine and I thought it was worth sharing.