The word “coincidence” is used a lot but in our circles, we know that there’s really no such thing. Everything is from Hashem, for a reason, and so when things jive in a fascinating or wonderful way, we know that’s it not just a coincidence, but from Hashem.
Ariella Savir, the wonderful Israeli songwriter and performer who began to become blind when she was 8-years-old, likes to play with words. She says that the word “coincidence” in Hebrew is mikreh, spelled mem-kuf-raish-heh. If you rearrange the letters, it comes out raish-kuf mem-heh, the two Hebrew words rak mi’Hashem – “just or only from Hashem.” Someone else said that if we rearrange the letters in another way, it comes out rakam Hashem, Hashem wove, as in a tapestry. Listen to this story and tell me. Could this extraordinary set of circumstances have been just a coincidence?
I heard this story yesterday from my daughter who lives in Eretz Yisrael (where we see lots of hashgacha pratis, Divine intervention).
My son-in-law was on a crowded bus in Yerushalayim when suddenly the normal sounds of conversations – both live and on cell-phones – was shattered by the screams of a child. Everyone looked in the direction of the cries and saw in the back of the bus a sweet little boy of about 3 or 4 years crying and screaming hysterically. As the people looked around to see what the cause of his outburst was it became evident that no one was with him – not an adult and not another child. This little child was alone and was clearly and understandably hysterical.
Immediately people went up to him to help him, to find out what the problem was and to solve it as soon as possible. But he refused all offers of help and just continued screaming with fear. “I want to help you. What’s your name?” one woman said to him gently, but the child wouldn’t respond and just kept on screaming. Another person went to him and kindly said: “Don’t be afraid. I’ll help you find your mother or father. Just…” But to no avail. The boy wouldn’t respond to anyone. “Come with me,” said another person with understanding and compassion, “and I’ll help you find your…” There was no point in even finishing the sentence as the child shouted and wailed so loudly and that no one could get through to him.
My sweet son-in-law, a lovely young man in his early thirties, also tried. He went to the boy, stretched out his hand towards the child and said: “Come with me and I’ll take you to your mother and father.” And with that the boy stopped crying, gave him his hand and went with him. Now, his little body heaving from all the crying, he sniffled softly after all those tears, but it was clear that he felt totally relieved and safe as he went with my son-in-law, hand in hand, and stepped off the bus.
As soon as they reached the sidewalk, as my son-in-law was thinking about how to deal with the problem, with this lost child whom he had never seen before, he saw a young man running desperately fast after the bus. “Hello!” shouted my son-in-law, “is it this boy that you’re running for?” The man stopped, relieved beyond words and quietly nodded as he stood there, panting and whispering words of gratitude to Hashem. The boy ran into his father’s arms and started crying again, this time from relief.
What was the story? Had the parents gotten off the bus and forgotten their son? No. They were at a bus stop waiting for their bus and when this one arrived, they didn’t get on because it wasn’t the bus they were waiting for. But their young eager son didn’t realize this and before they knew it, he was nowhere to be seen, the bus doors closed, and the bus, with the boy on it, was on its way. As soon as the parents realized what had happened the father started racing after the bus. Meanwhile, the scene that I described unfolded inside the bus. If my son-in-law hadn’t succeeded in taking him off the bus as quickly as he did, the task of reuniting the child with his family would have been much more complicated and the child would have been traumatized that much more.