Many people consider strange occurrences, often uninvited ones, as a coincidence. Others, like me, are convinced that things happen because God intended it. I have experienced several special sudden blessings, not by coincidence but rather by the Finger (or Hand) of God. It is known as Divine Intervention. Hashgacha Pratit). Here are four of them.
______1951. A group of us from Kibbutz Matzuva in the far north of the country, close to the Lebanese border, had planned a trip to Eilat in the far south, the last place in Israel before reaching Jordan or Saudi Arabia.
Many long and uncomfortable hours of travel brought us to a short stop in Beersheba. It was there that I decided to stay for two days while my companions continued further south to Eilat. They left me a small tent and a few bottles of water. It happened, fortunately, to be a Thursday, the day of the weekly Bedouin market. I bought some oranges, pita loaves and a keffiyah as a souvenier.
Later that afternoon a truck carrying young Israeli soldiers was passing through and one of them hollered to me to hop aboard. They were on the way to a military canteen for coffee and he invited me to join them. That one cup of coffee gave birth to 62 years of devoted friendship until his death.
(A Bedouin market and one cup of coffee)
________________1956. I was on a tramway in Amsterdam. Sitting behind me were two young Dutch boys and in their conversation one of them mentioned his disappointment that his Hebrew teacher was taken ill and there was no one to replace him.
I turned around and asked him the name of the school and where it was located. A very few hours later I was in the office of the principal, Mr. Goudsmit, in the school of the Joodse Gemeente (the Amsterdam Jewish Community School) located in the Plantage Parklaan, a beautiful area of the city which had once had a large population of Jews prior to the Holocaust which took the lives of 75% of Dutch Jews.
After a thorough discussion I was offered the position of Onderwijs… teacher of Hebrew language, and found a large room for rent in a private home on Leidsekade 99, in the heart of downtown Amsterdam.
(A ride on a tramway).
_____________1959. I arrived at the port of Haifa too late. My ship to Istanbul had sailed without me. The shipping office at Zim Lines offered me passage instead to Naples and Marseilles on an Israeli ship, SS/Theodor Herzl, sailing the next day. It was on that ship, docked in the port of Naples, that I met the girl who was soon to become my wife. I thank God every day for having missed the ship to Istanbul.
(A missed ship).
_____ early 1970s. My wife and I decided to take a vacation in beautiful Mexico. After several days in Mexico City we headed for the charming resort city of Acapulco. Waiting in line to board a tourist bus we met a very happy and radiant young couple, he from the southern American state of Florida and she from Cuba. Both of them in their twenties, they were in Mexico to celebrate their honeymoon.
Rahel and I introduced ourselves to Pat and Alba and we enjoyed our company with them during our vacation visit. Rahel and I became very fond of the newly-weds and we have remained friends for more than 40 years. Alba, in particular, has become a most beloved friend over the long course of the years.
She is a devout Catholic and a true friend of Israel. When Rahel died in 2016, she was there with warm comfort and love. She sent us a special gift she had ordered… a blanket covered by six magnificent photos in color of my beloved Rahel in different stages of her life from her wedding gown to the pictures of us, our children and grandchildren, blessing the wine at the Pesach seder. We treasure it and every day we bless Alba for her extraordinary gift.
A few days ago she went to her Catholic church and lit a candle in Rahel’s memory.
I bought for her a small gift from Yardenit on the Jordan River, site of the baptism of Jesus by his cousin, John the baptist.
The saleswoman was curious to know why a kippa-wearing Jew would purchase a rosary with silver beads and a silver cross. My reply was simple. “The gift is for a religious Catholic woman who is holy and righteous. She possesses every Jewish quality of love, friendship and devotion, loyalty, caring and compassion. I could never have such a wonderful friend as Alba.”.
(Waiting in line for a bus).
I believe that all the experiences of meeting strangers who touched my life were not “mikrim” (coincidences). For me, I believe with all my heart that they were the intended blessings of Etzba Elokim… the Finger or the Hand of Almighty God.
I hope that His Finger will be pointed in my direction for His blessings in the few remaining years of my life.
Coincidences? No! Hashgacha Pratit…. Divine Inspiration. Faith. Friendship. Love.