Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I cannot believe he did it again!

For all his exceptional and truly wonderful traits (and baruch Hashem he has many), this one aspect of my husband’s personality continues to frustrate me some 35 years since we first met. I really have to keep things in perspective though; after all, his maalos outweigh his chisronos by a very wide, perhaps exponential, margin. He is highly intelligent, driven, innovative, and incredibly charismatic. I can easily run out of ink listing all of his positive attributes. And I fully acknowledge that this irksome negative trait is not even his fault. In fact, he actually put some effort into trying to rectify it, ordering expensive pills to enhance his memory – and then predictably forgetting to take them. So, I guess I should just count my many blessings, and learn to tolerate my husband’s legendary absent-mindedness.

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On the bright side, at least this shortcoming provides some occasional comic relief and inexpensive entertainment, not to mention plenty of material for my writing career! This week’s adventure began precisely when the new z’man began, on the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul. My husband and our boys had been working really hard setting up the yeshiva for “opening day.” This is generally challenging in and of itself, but this year it was further exacerbated by a decision to move the yeshiva to another campus in a different location. The move involved clearing out two apartments that had previously been used as the bochrim’s dormitories (henceforth to be known as Federal Disaster Areas A & B), physically packing and transporting hundreds of sefarim, and schlepping beds, bookcases, closets etc. Like most yeshivas, this one runs on a shoestring budget, so the teaching staff, et al, occasionally does double-duty as physical laborers.

My husband wanted to reward our sons for their hard work (read: slave labor), as well as to celebrate the start of Elul z’man (period). So he phoned while they were on their way back from the new campus, and we all went out for a late dinner at a popular local shwarma joint. On the way back home, shortly after 10:30 p.m., my better half belatedly realized that he had neglected to bring his tefillin home from shul that morning. He ordinarily intentionally leaves them in shul so that he does not risk forgetting them in the morning rush. But, once the z’man began, he was planning to catch an earlier daily minyan so that he could make it to yeshiva bright and early.

It was too late to go by to collect his tefillin from the shul, which happens to be housed in the basement of one of the balabatim’s beautiful home. He therefore decided to deal with his dilemma come morning. I always maintain that two of my husband’s main vices, forgetfulness and procrastination, are fostered and encouraged by the hashgacha pratis that he is, bli ayin hara, zoche to on a regular basis. This time was no exception. Sure enough, the following morning, one of our three sons had difficulty waking up at the crack of dawn to attend minyan with his father. So tefillin-less Abba requisitioned said son’s tefillin and was able to return them in time for the latter to catch Shacharis at a more normal hour. Crisis seamlessly averted.

Baruch Hashem, the z’man started very well, and my husband returned home, exhausted but exhilarated, shortly before midnight. That is also when he again belatedly remembered that he still had not managed to retrieve his tefillin. This time, however, he no longer had the obvious option of borrowing one of our boys’ tefillin. All three of our youngest sons were currently sound asleep in their respective yeshiva dormitories, many miles away. Needless to say, my perpetually optimistic husband did not despair. He knew that one way or another, Hakadosh Baruch Hu would see to it that he had tefillin to daven with the next morning.

Baruch Hashem, he was right. The yeshua truly arrived k’heref ayin, and from an unexpected, heretofore anonymous source. In fact, it was a classic case of hikdim refuah lamaka (Hashem prepared the solution before the predicament). The new yeshiva campus, in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, is not currently exclusive to our yeshiva. A boys’ yeshiva high school, and a vocational program for Ethiopian youth, share the campus for now. That at least partially explains why and how the mother of one of the high school students had phoned my home earlier that day. Apparently someone had informed her that a new yeshiva had just moved to that campus, and its rosh yeshiva just so happened to live in the same neighborhood where she resides.

Before divulging the reason for her call, she took quite a while to retrace the circuitous route that had led her to me. Then she hesitatingly stated her request:

“My son learns in the high school near your husband’s yeshiva,” she shared, by way of introduction. “He started school today, but inadvertently left his tefillin at home.” (Well, it certainly did not take a rocket scientist to surmise that her son and my hubby were cut from the very same cloth.) “Is your husband going to yeshiva tomorrow morning? And do you think he would be able to bring my son’s tefillin?” I knew that the yeshiva had a major tiyul to the North scheduled for the following day. They traditionally start off the z’man by visiting the kivrei tzadikim, and davening for hatzlacha in their learning. The excursion also serves as a worthwhile bonding experience for the boys, many of whom are meeting each other for the very first time.

I explained the situation to her, concluding, “I honestly don’t know whether my husband will be driving to yeshiva tomorrow, or possibly meeting the bus somewhere en route. I suggest you call my husband directly on his cell phone, or e-mail him.” In the end, as you savvy readers may have guessed by now, it turned out to be a win-win situation. Before he left to join the boys’ tiyul on his second day of yeshiva, my husband spoke with the concerned mom and received permission to borrow her son’s tefillin. Shortly thereafter he happily delivered the tefillin to his grateful young benefactor.

In light of this convoluted tale, and the many similar stories that preceded it, I propose that, contrary to popular belief, sometimes “You can have your cake and eat it!” I likewise assume that my husband and his own tefillin will be reunited…eventually, but in the meantime, that pretty much wraps up (pun intended) this week’s divinely orchestrated tefillin saga. And after three and a half decades of witnessing my husband repeatedly capitalizing on eleventh hour indisputable yad Hashem rescues, something tells me that next week will, be’ezras Hashem, bring more of the same.

 

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