Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

What the taxi driver taught me about Albert Einstein

I’m stuck in a snarl of traffic on the way into Jerusalem in the backseat of a taxi.

There was an accident and five ambulances are trying to squeeze past the traffic piled up on on Highway 1.

“People have to slow down,” the taxi driver says. “Nothing is so important that you have to risk your life.”

He slows down.

He hands me a book of Tehilim – psalms.

I take it.

“Do you believe in God?” He asks me.


“Of course you do! You are a daughter of Israel! Do you know what month it is?”

“Yes, it’s September,”

“No no, kapara… what JEWISH month is it?”

“Elul —“

“Yes! Very good! It’s Elul! This is a time to be close to God! Especially now when the world feels so unbalanced. Let me tell you a story,” he says. “Do you know Albert Einstein?”

“Of course.”

“So one day Albert and his best friend were talking and his best friend asked him ‘hey Albert, do you believe in God?’ And guess what Albert said? Albert said yes. His friend was in shock ‘Albert, you’re a man of science! How can you believe in God?’ And do you know what Albert replied?”

“I assume he didn’t believe in God, but tell me!” I reply.

“Ahh, kapara, expect the unexpected!  Albert said to his friend that it’s BECAUSE he is a man of science that he believes in God. His friend said ‘how?’ ‘Ok,’ Albert said ‘can you live in minus 100 degrees Celsius weather?’ ‘Of course not, I would freeze to death,’ his friend said. ‘Can you live in 100 degrees Celsius weather?’ ‘Of course not, I would burn to death’ the friend said. ‘Exactly. Why do you think it never gets to he that cold or that hot?’ Albert asked his friend. ‘I don’t know… I guess something balanced the extremes?’ ‘Exactly!!’ Albert said “exactly! There are scales and there is balance and the one who balances everything is God.’”

“Some would call that nature,” I say.

“That’s fine, that’s fine,” the driver says. “You can call it nature – but there is a balance — when the earth is too hot, it suddenly cools off with a nice fresh rain, right? That’s God, making the balance. You’ll see – in a few weeks the rains will come,  all the stress and anger will just go away. Until the next time. But that’s how the balance works, and that’s how God works.”

I sit for a few moments and let it sink in.

“I like that story,” I tell him.

“Of course you like it!” he says. “I told it! It’s a great story!”

We finish the ride – safe and sound.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Muhammad,” he answers. “Expect the unexpected, kapara!””

And with a jaunty wave, he drives off into Jerusalem.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.