I had to catch the 6:13 a.m. train from Petach Tikva to Modiin. Otherwise, I would be late for the bar mitzvah. I showed up at the train station at 5:45. It was locked. I asked the guard when they would be opening. He said, “Soon.”
I began to feel anxious.
True, it would take only five minutes from the time I entered the station to board the train. But I have always liked to be early, in plenty of time.
I threatened to complain. The guard was unfazed. Eventually, more people arrived and he opened the gate. The cashier at the ticket booth had not yet arrived. It was 6:05. A young female guard said that if the cashier didn’t come in time, I could pay on the train.
“But why wouldn’t the guard tell me when the station opened?” I asked her.
“It depends,” she answered sweetly.
“We have regulations.”
“What are the regulations?”
“I might miss my train!”
“Everything is from Above.”
Meanwhile, the ticket booth lady had arrived. Though filled with anxiety, I decided not to complain. It is my job in this world to fix myself, not other people. I felt ashamed of my mounting negative feelings. Though the guard had angered me, he had not actually caused me any harm.
Since I was struggling to make a living, I didn’t think it was auspicious to threaten someone else’s job. I decided to let it go.
My trip required me to change trains in Tel Aviv. I had planned to get off at the last stop, but something made me get off at the central terminal. I had about 20 minutes before my connecting train, and sat down on a bench to say Tehillim.
A scruffy, bareheaded man wearing an earring and smelling of cigarette smoke passed by.
“Tehillim is a good thing,” he said. I acknowledged his remark and called after him, “So say some!”
He walked back to me.
“I have a Tehillim in my bag but I don’t use it.” He took out a book to show me.
“Why don’t you?” I asked.
“Because I don’t know what to say.”
I explained that the Tehillim book was divided into days of the week and days of the month. He decided to say Tehillim for that day, a Thursday.
“I need to cover my head, right?” He rummaged through his bag, pulled out a scruffy kippah, and placed it awkwardly on his head.
He sat down next to me on the bench, and we proceeded to say Tehillim together in whispers. I felt Divinely blessed. These were special moments.
When we finished, I showed him the prayer he could say after reciting Tehillim. He said he’d recite it on the train. He then expressed an interest in learning more Torah. He told me he went to a kollel every morning to put on Tefillin. I made a suggestion or two for Torah classes.
We parted with blessings for one another as the train pulled up.
This fellow passenger was obviously a Divine emissary. After all, something had made me get off at this station, and our meeting had great significance.
The two incidents, the one with the guard and the one with the man, took place half an hour apart. I contemplated on the tremendous difference in the interactions.
The Ba’al Shem Tov said that we are all reflections of one another. We show others what they have inside them, and they reflect our flaws and virtues back to us.
At any moment, we can either inspire others or bring out the worst in them. The choice is ours.
We are all like trains passing each other on our journeys, stopping briefly to make deliveries at each other’s stations.
The female guard was right.
Everything is from Above!