My cellphone rang at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. The caller identity flashed Sarah Chana’s name! Sarah Chana, my roommate in seminary so long ago, who I hadn’t seen in years. I was so excited! I remembered that she had called me months before and left a message on my home phone that she needed to ask me an important question.
I had missed her call, and when I tried to find her phone number, my home machine had so many numbers on it, that I could not determine which one was hers. However, I knew that her number was saved in my cellphone. I called her back and left a message on her answering machine, saying, “Hope to speak to you soon,” but I never heard from her.
Until now! I was so happy to finally speak with her after so many months had gone by. I answered with joy and said, “Sarah Chana! It’s so wonderful that you called!”
“Um… well, actually I’m calling you to say that I am not Sarah Chana,” the voice began.
“Hello, what did you say? How could that be? Your phone number is saved in my cellphone, and it says here ‘Sarah Chana.’ Umm… what is your name? I must have saved your phone number for some reason.”
“My name is Rachel Hartman. I don’t know why you have my number, but for sure, I’m not Sarah Chana. That’s why I called you today, because way back in Elul, you left a message on my phone saying to Sarah Chana that you were returning her call and for months I’ve been meaning to let you know that Sarah Chana never got your message… because I’m not her. I am so, so sorry that it has taken me so long to call you back! Every day it’s been on my list to call you. And finally, finally I’m calling you today!
“That is so sweet of you to take the time to do this,” I began to thank Rachel. “But who are you? Why would I have your number saved in my phone? We must know each other! We must have spoken together in the past or I wouldn’t have your phone number saved. Are you a writer? Were we at a conference together? Did you once call me about my doula services? Did you call me with a health question?”
“No, I don’t think so. Maybe my phone number is almost the same as someone else you know?”
“Hmm… this is very interesting. Why would I have saved your phone number if we hadn’t spoken together? Why else would I have your number in my phone? What did you say your name was?”
“Which neighborhood do you live in?”
“Hmm…. Do you know….? Or…?” I mentioned the names of several friends who lived there and we continued to explore the different possibilities of all the people we might know in common, at whose simchahs we may have sat together. There had to be some reason we spoke on the phone once upon a time and long ago, though I obviously hadn’t saved her name correctly.
We still hadn’t figured it out when I had another thought and asked her, “Maybe last spring you called me with a question about my book, Prepare for Pesach B’simchah?”
“What?!! What book?”
“I wrote a book about how to enhance our simchah during a period of time that a lot of women tend to get stressed out, and they need support and encouragement, you know, inspiration and helpful guidance to turn this potentially tumultuous time into something completely different!
“Getting ready for Pesach is actually an amazing opportunity to have a really positive experience getting ready for an awesome chag!”
“Well, this is really strange,” Rachel began. “Just yesterday I said to my best friend that I can’t believe it’s not even Chanukah and I’m already stressing out about Pesach! It’s not such a “happy” time over here… even though I would like it to be that way.”
“Okay, so there you go! Our mystery is solved! I don’t know why your number is saved in my phone as ‘Sarah Chana’ and I don’t know why you decided to call me today, instead of months ago… but now we know that Hashem wants you to be b’simchah about our very special holiday of emancipation from slavery! Yitzias Mitrayim—going out of Egypt includes our personal redemption from the bondage within our minds. Liberation!! Hashem arranged everything!” I gushed.
“This is incredible!” Rachel agreed.
“The main thing, really, I can say on one foot, is to only focus on getting rid of chametz. All the rest of “Pesach cleaning” is usually “spring cleaning” – sorting through stuff we don’t need, organizing our lives… And all that takes up so much time and creates so much pressure! The trick is to relegate ‘stuff sorting, house renovations, and organization’ to different times… like after Pesach, during summer vacation, or even way before Pesach! You’ll see, it will be great!” I gushed again. Within a few more minutes discussing how to arrange getting a book to her, we discovered that my daughter was in the same seminary as her neighbor’s daughter. So within 24 hours she was holding a book about simchah in her hands!
Though I have not yet found out why Sarah Chana called me in August, a few days after this unexpected call from Rachel, I called Rachel to see how she was doing, if she’d had a chance to skim through the book and if so, was she feeling more relaxed.
Well, yes, I had a chance to read the Chanukah – Purim story in your book, and that inspired me to sort out our “clutter” drawer that’s in the living room where the kids always play and where, before Shabbos, everything gets dumped in there! That’s the drawer that always gets so filled up that I’m afraid to open it! Just daring to look inside and start organizing it made me feel much better, especially doing it now, before Chanukah, and not in April! Thank you so much!”
I smiled. Thank me? Hashem is in charge of everything! Even “wrong” phone calls!