Because of the many events which have occurred in my life in unexpected places and by unknown persons, I am convinced that none of them happened simply by chance or by coincidence. They were major events in my life and could only have happened if Almighty God had so willed it.
Arriving too late after the ship had sailed from Haifa one day in August 1959, I had to sail the next day on a different ship. It was on the deck of that ship that I first met the woman who was soon to become my wife. And after only six days, we were married in Tel-Aviv, a marriage that was magical and which lasted 56 years until her death in 2016.
Missing a ship was hashgacha pratit. God intervened and His action brought happiness into my life. It was the first instance I can recall of Divine intervention. There were several others over many years.
On Shabbat Lech L’cha, in the synagogue, one of my friends asked me how I was feeling. I replied that yesterday had been a very bad day for me. “Why so?”, he asked. And I told him.
“Yesterday I was remembering the exact moment of my beloved wife’s death. It was at 2:45 in the morning of 23 September 2016 when she took her last breath. I closed her eyes, kissed her lips and my flowing tears wet her lifeless cheek. I lit a candle next to her bed and covered her with a sheet. The rabbi and his wife came 15 minutes later, holding me and hugging me while I screamed and cried”.
I told my friend that I could not get that memory out of my mind. I told him that for me, my life ended with her death. I said I could not go on living without her. I did not want to go on living. Life had no meaning for me anymore. I just wanted to end my years and lie beside her in the cemetery.
When the musaf service ended, a man whom I had never met and who was sitting behind me had heard my remarks to my friend. He tapped my shoulder and took my hand and in Hebrew he reminded me that God gave life and only He could take life.
I often recite the simple prayer: “Hashem natan v’Hashem lakach. Yehi shem Hashem mevorach” from the biblical Book of Job. “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away that which He has given. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
The man who I had never known was a Persian Jew named Daniel… a name which means ‘God is my judge’.
He does not know me or my profession nor the same words which I have sadly spoken hundreds of times.
But he spoke to me as if he had known me for many years. He understood my pain. He understood the knife stuck in my heart. And he told me that I must continue to live my life studying God’s teachings in our Torah, worshipping on Shabbat, fulfilling as many mitzvoth (commandments, good deeds) as possible in memory of my wife, ‘Or ha-chayim sheli’…the light of my life.
This unknown-to-me Daniel, was a hashgacha pratit…a Divine intervention. He was a messenger from God who was instructed to comfort me, to teach me, and to heal my aching body. My broken heart can be repaired. But my soul will be damaged forever.
I have shared my unhappy feelings with my friend in the synagogue many times in the past three years. He knows my deep pain and my great suffering. A glass of Scotch whiskey will not take the pain away.
Daniel, who knew me not, who had never known my wife nor any member of my family, appeared in God’s House of Prayer on the Sabbath when God first appeared to our father and patriarch, Avraham, in Ur Kasdim, Babylonia.
God commanded him to go forth, to find himself, to find comfort… “Lech L’cha”…get out!
Daniel’s message to me, like Hashem’s message to Avraham, was “get out”… get out of your pain and suffering. Go forth to a life of joy with your children and grandchildren. Continue living, not dying, as your wife would have wanted and as God has intended for you.
On this Shabbat and in my daily morning prayers I will ask of Him… “Ribbono shel ha-olam, borai kol nefesh, tevarech et Daniel ha Yehudi, baal lev tahor v’cham b’briyut tovah v’orech yomim, hatzlacha v’harbai nachat v’smachot. Ken yehi ratzon”.
Master of the universe, Creator of all that lives, bless Daniel the Jew, master of a pure and warm heart, with good health, long years of life, success and great happiness. May it be Thy will”.
As for me, I have witnessed another event of hashgacha pratit in my life… a time when God remembered me and sent me a messenger of hope by His Divine intervention. Sabbath voices heard in the synagogue. And God heard.
The messenger He sent was a Persian Jew named Daniel.