In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2004 / 11 Teves, 5765

An actor in a Divine comedy of ‘errors’ — and I didn't even know it!

By Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

A Seattle rabbi at a rest stop in South Carolina is reminded that things are not always what they seem

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There are times in life that things happen that are so incredible that there's nothing left to do but stand back in total wonder and awe.

This past Thanksgiving weekend my family and I were invited to join my parents and siblings in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As we were unable to fly into the Savannah/ Hilton Head airport (tickets, particularly of the free frequent flyer variety, were sold out) we resolved ourselves to first fly to Atlanta and then drive the additional four hours to our destination.

Realizing that I would probably have no idea how to get to the condominium where we would be staying, my father and I agreed that I'd call him upon arriving at the Savannah rest area. He would then meet us so we could follow him to our place of lodging. Simple enough, right? Not quite.

We'd come to the rest stop as a means of preventing problems. Upon pulling up, I realized that was not going to be the case.

My cell phone was dead. (Never happens to you, right?) No need to worry, I thought to myself. I'll just use the public payphone.

Wrong again. They were all out of order.

I wasn't sure what to do next, when I suddenly remembered taking along a charger — but would there be an electric outlet available to juice my phone? As you guessed, the rest area's main building was closed and the bathrooms did not have any outlets. I knew I was hitting bottom when I started leering a little too hopefully at the Coke machine's power outlets. Then suddenly I heard a voice.

"Do you need to borrow a cell phone?" I was asked.

I turned around to find a bareheaded man with his hand outstretched. Immediately I expressed my gratitude. He replied, "Y'know with a few more people we can get a minyan [required quorum of 10 for prayer]."

My tongue was caught in my throat, but somehow I managed a casual query: "Oh, you're Jewish?"

We began to engage in the ancient Jewish tradition of "Jewish Geography" — where two co-religionists, strangers til that moment, attempt to find some sort of connection between friends or family.

Much to my delight, I found out that Ed was from Charleston and was a congregant of one of my close friends, Rabbi Ari Sytner. Marvel, however, soon turned to intrigue. Upon telling him that I was from Seattle, he turned pale and then shared with me something incredible.

"We recently koshered our home and have begun to take our Judaism more seriously," he began. "Our greatest wish is that our son, who is in the military, can also share some of the beauty we have found in our heritage."

Ed and his wife discussed this with Rabbi Sytner. They were told by the rabbi that he had a friend in Seattle not far from the Fort Lewis base, where their son was going to be stationed.

He meant me!

"This was a few weeks ago," Ed continued, "and my son just got settled in this week and I wasn't sure if we should be in touch or not. But it seems that the good L-rd in Heaven sure resolved that one for us."

The feeling I experienced was one of awe and amazement at how many experiences that at first seemed so discombobulating in actuality turned out to be so Divinely orchestrated.

My "chance" meeting on the other side of the country also gave me insight into a fantastic Midrash.

Donate to JWR

The Torah portion of Vayigash has our forefather Jacob finally reuniting with his long lost son, Joseph, who was presumed dead. The emotion, no doubt, was likely as intense as emotion can be. In fact, as the Torah describes it, upon seeing his elderly father, Joseph immediately falls upon him and begins to bawl. But only Joseph.

Says the Midrash, Jacob was not crying. Instead, he was reciting the ancient Jewish prayer, Shema — "The L-rd is Our G-d the L-rd is One".

Praying? you ask in disbelief. Now, of all times to pray!

The Sixteenth Century scholar and author, the Maharal of Prague, explains that Jacob was not merely reciting his prayers. For Jacob, uttering the Shema was the reaction that most succinctly expressed the awe that he was feeling: The almost unbelievable sensation that everything that occurred was through the hand of G-d. Famine, the loss of his son — two seemingly unrelated tragedies but under the unseen hands of our Father in Heaven — both happened in order to propel Joseph to his position as viceroy in which he was most suited, in order to prepare Egypt for the arrival of the tribes of Israel.

Incredible things happen frequently. There is no such thing as "coincidences." Sometimes these incidents are revealed immediately. At other times we never learn of our role in their facilitation. But we need to open our eyes. By doing so, not only will our prayers be more complete and meaningful but we'll realize that our daily lives and all of our experiences are connected to the eternal hand of our Maker.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting and inspirational stories. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz heads the West Seattle Torah Learning Center of The Seattle Kollel. Comment by clicking here.

© 2004, Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz