The Three Weeks

You Just Never Know…

July 19, 2011

adapted for this series from Rabbi Yaacov Haber’s “REACHINGS”

Rav Gifter, the great Rosh Yeshiva of the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland, flew one day, with a number of his students, to a wedding in Baltimore. They had to change planes in some city on the way to Baltimore.

While they were waiting at the airport there, there were so many delays that Rav Gifter suddenly realized that, even if there were no further delays, there was no way they could reach the wedding in time. So he decided to return, with all his students, to Cleveland.

But first, he decided, they should “daven mincha” (recite afternoon prayers) at the airport where they were, for otherwise it would be too late for mincha if they first flew back to Cleveland. Since it is always preferable to pray in a private room, Rav Gifter signalled a passing janitor, with a large bunch of keys in his belt, and asked him if such a room were available anywhere in the airport. The janitor replied: “Sure, follow me!” and strode through the airport, followed by Rav Gifter and his students.

The janitor arrived at a room and unlocked the door, and the company began to daven mincha. As they began, the janitor approached one of the students and asked him if he would help him recite Kaddish (the prayer for the deceaced)!

Rav Gifter, hearing about this, came over and asked the janitor about himself, and the janitor told him the following story:

“My father was a Jew who belonged to a reform temple, and I myself am non-practicing at all. My father died one week ago.

Last night he appeared to me in a dream and said: `Say Kaddish for me!’ I answered: `But Father, you never taught me anything. I don’t know how to say Kaddish, or where to go to find a minyan! ‘He said: `Don’t worry –I’ll bring the minyan to you!’”

What happened here? Rav Gifter thought that he and his students were traveling to a wedding in Baltimore, but actually they were traveling to bring a minyan — one of the most prestigious minyanim in the America! — to this janitor, just to enable him to say Kaddish for his father!

We must realize that the reason for our arrival at a certain place, or leave it, may not be the reason we think it is, but it is the fulfilment of G-d’s purpose — whatever that may be — and sometimes, just sometimes, we actually find out…