Recently, I discovered a frum website, www.jewish-e-books.com, that allows one to download hundreds of Jewish books – both in English and Hebrew. Having written a sefer myself, I was able to get it put on their website. The front cover of the sefer, however, was grainy and very unclear. I remembered that I had tried selling my sefer on amazon.com approximately seven years ago and had uploaded a picture of the front cover there. Perhaps that picture was better. When I typed the name of my sefer in their search engine, a message popped up that my book was no longer available. I knew it was a long shot, but I then typed my last name. I was immediately directed to information about a 736-page book with the title, “Jew in Jail.” I had no idea what brought that up and thought it must be some mistake.
Scrolling down, my name did not appear anywhere. The book is the autobiography of a Brooklyn Jew who spent six years in the New York State Penitentiary system. Wanting to get to the bottom of this mystery, I wrote to the author whose email address appeared on the page. He wrote back that he remembered that I was his chaplain in one of the prisons he attended in upstate New York. He wasn’t sure at first, but when he looked at his manuscript online and typed my name in the search box, voila – there it was! He even wrote that he remembered that I brought a guitar into the facility on Chanukah, and that he had mentioned it in his book. That incident brought back wonderful memories to him.
The author sent me a free, signed copy of his book as a token of appreciation. You never know when a small thing on your part will influence someone’s life. For me, this story really drove home Chazal’s message to us in Pirkei Avot 2:1: “All your deeds are written in a book.”
Sometimes, we see excerpts from “the Book” in our own lifetimes!