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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Shomer Pesayim Hashem

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Okay, I admit it. I was not really disappointed that they had overslept. I may not be a candidate for the Mother of the Year Award, but I am honest. Truth be told, I was actually somewhat relieved that things evolved as they had.

I am predictably getting ahead of myself, so I will now return to the beginning of the story.

My teenage boys were on Nissan bein haz’manim break and had decided to join some of their classmates on a challenging hike in the vicinity of Yam Hamelach. Every year there are horror stories of bein haz’manim trips gone awry; in the past two weeks alone, nearly 200 hikers had to be rescued and/or airlifted out of harm’s way by Israeli soldiers and air force personnel. In short, a mother worries. In fact, if the Mother of the Year Award featured a category for best worrier, I would be a major contender.

Admittedly, when I went to bed the night before the scheduled excursion, with the boys’ plans of rising before the crack of dawn to daven vasikin and meeting their friends at 6 a.m. to catch the bus still ringing in my ears, I was less than overjoyed. And when I awoke the next morning to find them still sound asleep in their beds at 7:30 a.m., I did not shed any tears.

My sons, however, were far from equally nonchalant. The 19-year-old pointed an accusing finger at the 16-year-old culprit, and berated him soundly for forgetting to set his alarm as instructed. The latter had, in fact, set the alarm, but absent-minded professor that he is, inadvertently programmed it to go off just before 5 p.m. – instead of a.m. In any case, there was no turning- back-the-clock option at that point. The boys got dressed, and still grumbling audibly, set off to their usual 8 a.m. minyan at my husband’s shul.

By the time they returned an hour later, however, their mood had improved considerably. One of my husband’s congregants was expecting his children and grandchildren to join him for the upcoming Pesach holiday, and decided to surprise them with flash drives loaded with his collection of family movies. Like anyone over the age of 25, however, he had no idea how to transfer his DVDs onto flash drives. So, by the time he walked through the door after davening, my older son had a job for the day at a respectable salary of $100. My second son was more than happy to resume his rigorous bein haz’manim learning schedule at a local beis hamedrash. So b’chasdei Hashem, the bickering died down and harmony was restored.

But the story does not end there.

Baruch Hashem, our sons’ friends all returned safe and sound to their concerned mothers. However, it was not until much later that evening that we received the full report. Suffice to say that the trip had not gone quite as planned.

The boys had met as scheduled, taken two long costly bus rides to the area of the Dead Sea and trekked for nearly an hour in the blazing sun to reach their destination. Shortly after 10 a.m., they finally arrived at the entrance to the highly anticipated hike and were told that they had come mere moments too late to be allowed admittance. They had already been up and on the go for many hours and were understandably exhausted and upset. Unfortunately, no amount of arguing or cajoling could sway the gatekeepers. Tired and spent, the disappointed would-be hikers turned around and returned the way they had come.

Needless to say, my sons and I sympathized with their frustrated friends who had endured so much schlepping and expense for naught. At the same time, however, they were eternally grateful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for sparing them that agony, instead rewarding them with bonus monetary income and Torah-learning. All in the merit of an incorrectly set alarm clock.

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