G-d’s Master Plan – LII (52) –Rabbi Sacks Tributes Remind Me Of Personal Stories


The first two stories involved Rabbi Sacks flying together with former PM Tony Blair and Prince Charles.

Plane Trip One-

I found a story confirming that sometimes, Chief Rabbi Sacks would travel on the same plane as Prime Minister Blair and Prince Charles.

From The UK Independent Oct 24 2000-

A gentleman named Mr. Ashdown told a story which was an abstract from his diary about the time Prince Charles suggested that a Roman Catholic should be allowed to ascend to the throne.

The Prince said this while chatting with PM Blair and Chief Rabbi Sacks in 1995. In response to a suggestion that the Church of England should be disestablished, the Prince said he saw no reason why a Catholic should not be allowed to take the throne.

The article went on to say The 1701 Act of Settlement bars Catholics from the line of succession to the throne.

Plane Trip Two

Once I found that story in print, I felt confident to tell the following story which I heard from a third party that also mentions a plane trip which involved those three gentlemen on the same flight.

Apparently, during the flight Rabbi Sacks decided to pull out his Gemorah to learn. When the Prince and Prime Minister saw this, they immediately decided to ask him what he was studying. It appears Rabbi Sacks gave them such an impressive Shiur that they came away very inspired from what they heard.

My Plane Trip With Bishop Tutu

This involved a routine trip I would make monthly for a management meeting to the head office of the Employee Benefits Organization I was working for in roughly 1994 around the time Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president. I flew from Johannesburg to a city called Mmabatho which was situated next to an older city named Mahikeng, It is still commonly known as Mafikeng[3] and previously Mafeking and is the capital city of the North-West Province of South Africa.

Located close to South Africa’s border with Botswana, Mahikeng is 1,400 km (870 mi) northeast of Cape Town and 260 km (160 mi) west of Johannesburg.

I arrived at the airport just in time to check-in and catch the flight after having raced home following davening in an early Shacharit minyan at Shul. I was waiting to board the flight when I noticed a relatively short man walking into the boarding area followed by at least two younger men who seemed to be his helpers.

Bishop Tutu Arrives

And then I saw that red skull cap and immediately knew Bishop Tutu would be on the same plane. I had never before seen him on these flights but it turns out Bishop Tutu was making a rare trip to meet Lucas Mangope who at that time served as President of the Homeland named Bophuthatswana, where Mmabatho is located.

We took our seats and the plane took off. I immediately pulled out my siddur to say   תפלת הדרך (the prayer to ask G-d to grant us a safe trip). At the same time Bishop Tutu, sitting a few rows in front of me, was also reading from what I think was a Bible.

There were usually other employees from the firm flying with me.  So when we landed and arrived at the terminal to wait for transportation back to our head office, one of the other managers who works at our company approached me with an interesting observation.

He said to me the following-

Normally I don’t like to fly, but I was very happy to have flown with you and Bishop Tutu. That was because with you saying your prayers and Bishop Tutu saying his, that was the safest flight I have ever been on!!!!!

תפלת הדרך Saves The Day Again – Driving To Head Office

Instead of flying up to our head office, there were some occasions that demanded we stay overnight and so I would drive up to our office and stayed overnight at company expense in one of the hotels near-by.

My investment manager wanted to drive up with me that morning as he was very tired.  I met him at our Johannesburg office and I drove while he was dozing off for most of the trip.

There was a certain spot I liked to stop at and say תפלת הדרך .When I arrived, I pulled over and began saying it. My manager opened his eyes to ask me where we were and why I needed to stop. After explaining the traveler’s prayer to him. I finished saying it and we were back on the road.

We were about 20 minutes from our destination and traveling on a long stretch of the open road when I noticed something fast approaching my car. There was a herd of animals that was attempting to cross this two-lane highway. And since I was traveling at roughly 90 km per hour, I had to suddenly apply the brakes. That caused my passenger to wake up startled but since he had his seat belt on he was OK.

At That Very Moment, He Was Having The Same Dream 

I asked him if he was OK and he nodded and then told me the amazing dream he was having at that very moment. He was actually dreaming that he was on the road and suddenly there were animals that appeared in front of his car which caused him to put on the brakes. That was at the same time I also had to slam my brakes.

So as I began driving he asked me to tell him more about that prayer I said as we began our journey when we left the city of Johannesburg. After I explained it, and just before we arrived at our office he said the following to me-

I must tell you that next time we both travel together, please make sure you stop anywhere you need to and say that prayer. I am convinced that’s what helped us today to have a safe trip!!!!

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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