Tuesday, September 10th, 2019, Katamonin, Jerusalem
Ariel Drei lives in a yeshuv (settlement) in Gush Etzion called Bat Ayin. However, he is a project manager for a building company that is based in Katamonin, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. On this particular Tuesday, Ariel, a medic for United Hatzalah, was at work when he got a call about a woman nearby who was having severe chest pain. He rushed over to the woman’s house, only a few minutes from his workplace, and saw the woman distressed and clutching her chest. He provided first aid treatment and stabilized her until. A few minutes later the ambulance arrived. Ariel waved goodbye to the woman, named Edna, as she was taken to the hospital in the ambulance. Ariel then went back to work hoping that the woman would be ok and that it was nothing serious. Another call, another person he helped, another moment of feeling grateful that he was a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah. Back to work.
Friday, September 13th, 2019, Bat Ayin
Ariel is not only an EMT for United Hatzalah, but he also volunteers for an organization called Yedidim- a non-profit that assists people all over the country who are having car trouble by sending volunteers to assist them with their mechanical problem. Ariel started volunteering for Yedidim when his best friend, David, told him about the organization. This specific Friday afternoon, it was very close to Shabbat and Ariel was preparing for the festive day with his wife and 3 children in their home in the hills of Bat Ayin. Suddenly, his phone beeped and he realized he was getting a call from Yedidim. A man was stuck in the forest, right near his home, next to a ma’ayan (water spring). The spring was only a 5-minute drive from his house and Ariel drove over to help the guy who was stuck. Ariel met Yitzchak, a man in his 50’s, who lived in a yeshuv 10 minutes away from Bat Ayin called Migdal Oz. He had come before shabbat to the ma’ayan and although he had a jeep, his car wouldn’t start. Ariel helped Yitzchak get his car started and they both got back home just in time for Shabbat to start.
Tuesday, Sep 24th, 2019 Har Nof, Jerusalem
Ariel and his friend David were the best of friends and in the last few months, David had been going through a horrible and really traumatic divorce. Ariel had been there for him through the entire process and finally, the day came where David was going to be giving his wife a gett- the official Jewish divorce papers. When David asked Ariel to join him at the ceremony, Ariel was happy to be there for his friend and at 9 am, Ariel accompanied his friend to the court to be with him when he gave a gett to his wife. After the divorce ceremony was over, Ariel gave a big hug to his best friend and said he would have to catch up with him later because he had to run to work. With a heavy heart, but feeling happy for his friend that he was out of a bad marriage, he drove away.
Ariel was at work. Suddenly he got a call on his bluebird about a very serious car accident that happened right next to his work. He arrived at the scene in his car and saw all the commotion, but the road was blocked off and he was not able to drive to the scene. Seeing how bad the situation looked, without thinking, he ran out of his car and started running to the severely injured man. Ariel was shocked at the amount of blood and suddenly he realized he hadn’t taken his bag with him. He suddenly saw a complete stranger standing there and he yelled at him, “Go to that car over there. Here are my keys. Get my medic bag in the trunk and bring it to me quickly!” The man, who had been in his home with his daughter when he saw the terrible accident from his porch, ran to the scene to see if he could help. He grabbed Ariel’s keys, ran to his car, got the bag, and brought it to Ariel. Ariel, with barely time to think let alone thank him, started treating the severely injured man and the man who had gotten his bag, walked away.
In a neck brace and all bandaged up, they waited 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. When it finally did, Ariel told all the bystanders to leave and watched the ambulance drive off and all Ariel could think was, “I really hope that guy makes it”. With a deep breath, he washed his hands and walked back to his car, bag in tow, because he really needed to get back to work. Ariel started looking for his keys. He looked in his pockets, his bag, on the floor- no keys. He walked back to the scene, asked everyone around if they saw his keys, walked around staring at the floor- no keys. He couldn’t believe it- his keys disappeared! He couldn’t understand; where could his keys have gone? After retracing his steps several times, he realized they were nowhere to be found.
Ariel didn’t know what to do. Without another solution, he started knocking on random people’s doors in the neighborhood to see if anyone had found keys. He all of sudden realized that right in front of where the accident had taken place, there was an old building that had a security camera that was facing the exact scene of where he parked his car! He walked up to the building and knocked on the first door. A woman answered the door and Ariel started to inquire about the security camera. “Maybe someone stole the keys!” he thought. “I need to see the camera!” The woman said the camera was her neighbors, and his name was Yossi, but he would be at work now. “Here is his number”, she said, and she handed Ariel his number.
Ariel called Yossi and was shocked to hear how mad, angry and grumpy the man was. With a real obnoxious attitude, Yossi told Ariel that he was at work, which was about 20 minutes away from his home, and he wouldn’t get off work until 8 pm. Ariel offered to pay for his taxi home and then back to work if only he would come home for a short time to show Ariel the security cameras. Yossi, annoyed, said he wouldn’t enter a taxi! “I have an idea,” Ariel told Yossi, “I’ll call you right back!”.
Ariel, who knew his friend had taken the day off, called David to ask him a favor. He told him the entire story and asked him if he was nearby in Jerusalem and if he wouldn’t mind going to pick up Yossi from his work in Armon Hanatziv, bring him to Katamonim, and then bring him back to work after showing Ariel the security cameras. David, with so much appreciation to his friend for everything he had done for him, said yes immediately and that he was on the way to Yossi. David then asked Ariel if he had spare keys. Ariel said yes, but they were in his home in Bat Ayin. David, also a volunteer for Yedudim, said he would call Yedidim in Gush Etzion and see if any volunteers of the organization happen to be coming from the Gush area to Jerusalem and maybe they could bring him the keys. Ariel said that was a great idea and he then called his wife to find the spare keys.
Ariel then called Yossi back saying his friend David was on his way to get him and grumpy Yossi agreed reluctantly to get in the car and come help.
Suddenly, Ariel realized he was standing on the same block as the call he had two weeks before with the woman who had chest pain. He had wondered how she was doing and he decided he would go check and see how she was, and maybe she had an idea how to find his keys. He walked over to the door, knocked and suddenly Edna answered- healthy and smiling! “Wow! It’s you! You saved me 2 weeks ago!”. She couldn’t believe the man that had saved her was standing at her door. She thanked him profusely and invited him into the house for a cup of tea. After he heard her story of how she had gotten to the hospital just in time and came home a few days later, he began to tell her the story about how he lost his keys. “Oh! The accident that just happened? Yes, I saw it from my window… I will ask around now if anyone saw your keys!”
In the middle of this conversation with Edna, Ariel got a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize. “Hello”, Ariel answered. “Hello?” said the voice. “Oh my goodness! Is this Ariel?” “Yes,” Ariel answered thinking how weird of a question that was considering this guy had called him. “This is Yitzchak! A few weeks ago you saved me at the Ma’ayan in Bay Ayin before shabbat. Do you remember me?” “Of course Yitchak! Hello! So happy to hear from you, but this really isn’t a good time now, can I call you back?” “No. Ariel! You don’t understand how crazy this is! After you saved me that day, out of inspiration for what you did, I right away signed up to be a Yedidim volunteer to pay forward the kindness to others. I just got a call that someone needed keys brought from Bat Ayin to Jerusalem and I was on the way to Jerusalem anyway so I said I could help. Some guy named David gave me your number and when I dialed the number into my phone, your name came up and I can’t believe I am calling you- the man that saved me! So I want to help and bring you your keys!”
Ariel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He thanked Yitzchak and gave him his wife’s number. Migdal Oz was 10-15 minutes out of the way for Yitzchak and was not on the way to Jerusalem, but nevertheless, to return the kindness, he said he was on the way to Bat Ayin to get the spare keys and he would bring them to Ariel.
Yossi and David showed up to Yossi’s building. On the phone, Yossi sounded like a grumpy old man and he sounded annoyed. Yet, the Yossi that walked out of the car was smiling and happy. Ariel couldn’t understand what was going on. Was this the same man? The men walked out of the car, practically hugging, and David and Yossi told Ariel the following.
Yossi had been divorced for many years, alone, and didn’t really connect with people. When Yossi got into David’s car they started talking and in the 20-minute ride to Katamonim, David had told Yossi that he had just given his wife a gett that morning. Yossi started to give David chizzuk (emotional support) and began telling him that everything would be ok. David gained a lot of inspiration and help from his conversation with Yossi, and Yossi, because he helped David by giving him tools to get through this hard time, felt so elated that he could help someone. Yossi was so happy and felt their drive was divinely orchestrated. The two men walked out of the car feeling that their conversation had been extremely helpful and enlightening to both of them. Ariel was amazed to see how different of a man Yossi was from who he had spoken to earlier, just from helping someone get through a hard time, and how David looked so comforted by Yossi’s words.
Yossi, David, and Ariel all went into the apartment building. Yossi, now very happy to help, opened the camera on the screen and they started going through the footage from around the time of the accident. After a few minutes of looking, to everyone’s surprise, they saw the man that Ariel had asked to get him his medic bag from the car, put the keys into his own pocket! Ariel realized this man had taken his keys! As shocked as he was, he realized that the reality was, this man had taken his keys. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, although thinking he may have stolen them, they took a picture of the man from the footage on the computer screen and went back upstairs to Edna because Yossi did not recognize the picture. They showed the picture to Edna and asked her if she knew this man. Edna recognized him from the community but didn’t know who it was. She began sending the picture out to everyone in her neighborhood and shouting from her porch to her neighbors- “Does anyone know this man?”
They all went down to the main street to ask around if anyone recognized the man from the picture when Ariel saw a man approaching him. Ariel was about to show the man the picture to ask him if he recognized him- but he stopped in his tracks because he realized- this man was the man from the picture!
The man, named Nir, was holding Ariel’s keys in his hands and looked at Ariel and said, “Thank God you are still here! Listen to my story. I was home with my daughter when I saw a terrible accident from my window. I told my young daughter I would be right back and as I rushed out the door to see if I could help, I by mistake banged the door on my daughter’s far head. She seemed ok and I apologized but ran downstairs to help. You then saw me and asked me to get your medic bag from the car. I put the keys in my pocket just for a minute to bring you the bag planning to hand you the keys. When I handed you the bag, I heard my daughter screaming from the porch. I realized something was wrong and I ran back upstairs to see if she was ok. It turned out, she wasn’t. She was bleeding from her forehead and I was nervous she needed stitches so we went right away to Terem (urgent care). We got there and we were seen quickly. She got a few stitches and we just got back home now. Suddenly I see my picture flying around on local WhatsApp groups asking if anyone knows me and then I remembered- I have your keys in my pocket!”
After Nir apologized a million times, David, Yossi, Edna, and Ariel were just staring shocked at the amazing story. And right at that moment, Yitzchak pulled up with the spare keys he had brought from Bat Ayin.
Everyone looked at each other and Ariel began to connect all the pieces, introducing everyone, and explaining the sheer divine beauty of how all these pieces came together.
That night when Ariel got home he told his wife the entire story. He was so deeply touched how each piece of the puzzle had come together and he was able to see how doing good actually creates more good in the world. Grateful and amazed, he thought “Tomorrow I will check on the guy who was in the accident”.
And he did – and he was ok.