Israel is a country you can cross in about eight hours, less now with Route 6, so most buses are intercity in that they traverse many cities on their routes.
So, when you get on a bus, you have to say where you’re going so you pay the right fare. As I was coming back from work one day in June, I got on the bus whose end destination is Ariel. I was talking on my cell phone to my son, so I didn’t state a destination and the driver automatically took NIS9.50 instead of NIS6.50. When I pointed this out to him, he said it was my fault, I had been talking on my phone and didn’t say I wanted Petach Tikvah.
Okay, so I told him to just change my ticket and he refused. Now, he could have easily given me another ticket and given my ticket to the person behind me or at the next stop but he didn’t. He had an “I’m angry at the world” look on his face.
I got indignant and told him I would report him to the bus company and he’d be fined. He didn’t care. So, after yelling at him a bit more, I made my way down the aisle and called the number on the headboard at the back of his seat. It wasn’t the right number.
And then I thought. “What am I doing?” There’s a three-shekel (less than a dollar) difference. Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other! I went back to the driver and said, “You know what, I’m not going to report you. This is a time we have to be nice to each other. I’m letting it go and let this be a merit for the boys to come home.”
This happened during the second week of the captivity of yeshiva students Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Frankel, a period where almost every moment people were doing something to help get the boys back – praying, sponsoring rallies and special evening devoted to learning, delivering food to the soldiers searching, helping the families directly, writing articles, crying.
In my 30 years in Israel I had never before seen such unity and I often thought how overwhelmed the boys will be when they come back to see how much they had inspired – how much chesed, how many prayers, how much unity of every sector in Israeli society.
I was convinced Mashiach himself would lead them home. And you never knew which one action, one compromise, one caring act, one extra prayer was going to tip the scales in their favor.
The driver didn’t say anything, but something in his face changed. There are two interesting matters of hashgachah here. First of all, I saw the next day that I had called the wrong number. The customer service number was printed somewhere else and had I seen it, I might have gotten through. The other thing is this driver was Jewish. This is a line (Israel has about 700 bus lines) that is usually driven by an Arab. But I could see that this guy was Jewish.
The boys didn’t come home again. And Mashiach didn’t come. But if anything could have brought him it was the love and unity at the funeral of these three young heroes who had united the entire nation – first in hope, prayer and kindness and then in mourning.
Every year, we spend 40 days preparing for our day of judgment. And the same thing can be said of this period as of the 18 days in June. We never know what small thought, word or deed is going to tip the scales in our favor.