It was a wintry night in Eretz Yisrael and Yaakov Levy,* a religious Jew, was driving with his family on the Beka Road, coming home from their annual vacation in northern Eretz Yisrael. The road was dark, and for long stretches there were no other cars on the road. They drove on and on, looking forward to getting home, when suddenly the van began to slow down. Yaakov couldn’t imagine what the problem was until he looked at the gas meter and saw that . . . it was empty! He estimated that to get home all he needed was about a gallon of gasoline, and he tried to start up the car again, but no go. What should he do now? How would he get to a gas station to refill his tank?
Yaakov put on his bright yellow vest and got out of the van, ready to flag someone down if a car would approach, but no cars came by. Now the van was without heat and Yaakov’s wife and kids were getting very cold, besides being exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Suddenly Yaakov saw bright headlights coming in his direction. He vigorously waved his arms, and the driver pulled over and rolled down the window.
He was a big guy with a shaved head and when he saw Yaakov’s kippah and beard, he started shouting at him, asking him what he wanted. When Yaakov explained the situation, the driver looked into Yaakov’s car, saw his wife and children, and then started yelling at Yaakov, telling him what an idiot he was for not checking the gas meter sooner and filling up before he went on a long road. And then he added that that wasn’t surprising because all the religious Jews are irresponsible, and then he said: “You expect me to help you? Forget it!” When he finally paused for air, Yaakov implored him: “Please sir, just take me to a gas station so I can get enough gasoline to take my wife and children home. They’re so cold, and tired and hungry.” The driver laughed smugly and said, “You got what you deserved!” and then he closed the window and zoomed away.
Yaakov stood there, hoping and praying that someone more positive would stop to help him soon, but no one appeared. And then suddenly he saw headlights coming from the opposite direction. It was the same car! The driver slowed down, made a U-turn, and once again stopped next to Yaakov and rolled down his window.
“Listen,” he said, “if it were just you, I’d let you stay here til next year for all I care. But after I drove away, I started thinking about your kids in the car. It’s not their fault that they have a father like you. So I decided to come back and take you to the gas station. Like I said, I’m not doing this for you – I’m doing it for your poor, innocent kids that have you for a father. So get in.”
Yaakov turned back to his van, quickly told his wife what was happening, and then got into the other car and off they went. They drove for several minutes with the driver hurling insults at Yaakov and all the religious people in Israel as they drove. It wasn’t easy for Yaakov to hear all that unjustified hatred which the driver had obviously absorbed from the leftist ‘Israeli’ media, but Yaakov didn’t answer because all he had in his mind was to get the gasoline and get his family home, safe and warm with Hashem’s help.
After several minutes they saw a gas station and the driver pulled in. Yaakov got out but suddenly he noticed a large, bright sign: AT YOUR SERVICE 24/7! Yaakov, paused, deep in thought, and then returned to the car. The driver couldn’t imagine why Yaakov was back without the gas, and bellowed: “What’s the problem? Go get your gasoline already – what are you waiting for?!”
Yaakov hesitated, and then said: “I appreciate your help tremendously, but I can’t buy gas here because this gas station is open on Shabbat.” “What do you care?” screamed the driver. “It’s not you working there. You can go pray on Shabbat, and they can give people gasoline on Shabbat. Each to his own.”
Yaakov looked at him and said: “Thank you very much for trying to help me. I appreciate it tremendously. And Hashem will surely reward you for your kindness. But I can’t buy gas from someone who sells it on Shabbat.” “Why not?!” the man bellowed. Yaakov calmly explained: “Hashem gave us the Torah with instructions for how to live our lives. And it says in the Torah that we’re not allowed to work on Shabbat. That includes every Jew. ”
To which the driver retorted: “But the owner’s not religious! That’s his business, not yours!” To which Yaakov responded: “I’m Hashem’s child. Hashem loves me, and I love Him. I don’t want to do anything that’s against His will. So I can’t benefit from someone who desecrates Shabbat. I just can’t. I love Hashem. I can’t do that.”
And then, after a moment, he added: “The truth is that maybe because my kids are so cold and thirsty, maybe it is okay to buy here for their sake, but on the other hand, I don’t want to do anything that’s against Hashem’s will.” And then he said to the driver: “Maybe you can do me one more favor. Maybe you can help me find a gas station that’s not open on Shabbat. I’ll pay you for your time.”
The driver listened in amazement and then yelled: “Listen, I already told you that I think you’re nuts and I wouldn’t go out of my way to help you, but I’m still thinking about your poor kids. So get in and we’ll look for another gas station.” And then he roared: “A gas station with a kippah! And you don’t have to pay me!”
“Thanks,” Yaakov said, and in a moment, he was back in the car and they were off. Soon they came to another gas station which said: 24/6! Yaakov quickly got out, bought the gasoline he needed and in a few minutes was back in the car. “Thanks,” he said again. “Thanks very much!” And once more they were off, this time going back to Yaakov’s family who were anxiously awaiting him in the cold night.
When they arrived, and Yaakov thanked the driver again, he heard again: “It wasn’t for you, it was just for your poor kids!” “May Hashem bless you for that,” said Yaakov with a smile of sincere appreciation, and with that, the driver said “Bye!” and was off.
Before long the Levis were home, and after warm drinks and food, they were off to sleep. And by the next night the whole incident was forgotten.
And then one day there was a knock at their door. Yaakov opened the door and was amazed to see the same man who had driven him to the gas station. “Shalom,” he said, wondering what this could possibly be about. “What a nice surprise. Please come in and sit down.” Which the man did. “Would you like to drink something?” “No,” said the guest. “I just want to do what I have to do and go. By the way, my name is Erez Dror.” “Nice to meet you again,” said Yaacov, having no idea what the purpose of this visit could be.
And then Erez opened a laptop which he had brought with him and started to talk, this time in a normal tone. “To get straight to the subject, my father passed away two weeks ago.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” Yaakov said. The guest continued, “He was even more of an aetheist than I am, but in his will he wrote, ‘It’s true that all my life I was far from Hashem, but in my heart I know the truth. And so I want to give twenty percent of all my property and money (estate?) to someone who Hashem loves.'”
And then he continued: “That gave me a problem because I don’t know people like that. How could I know who Hashem loves. And then suddenly I remembered you. You told me, “Hashem loves me, and I love Him.” So I started trying to track you down until I finally did.” Yaakov could hardly believe what he was hearing.
The guest hit some keys on his laptop and then motioned to Yaakov to look at the screen. Yaakov hesitated, not wanting to see anything inappropriate or worse, but the guest said, “Don’t worry, no pictures, it’s just details of my bank account.” With that the guest pointed to a number on the screen, and said, “This is the amount I owe you.” Yaakov looked . . and looked. He was speechless. The amount was astronomical, beyond anything that he could have imagined.
The guest continued, “I assume that you don’t know how to deal with amounts of money like this, most people don’t, so I suggest that I’ll take care of it for you. I’ll make a monthly transfer of the amount that’s coming to you to your bank account. Is that okay with you?”
Since the guest began explaining why he was there, Yaakov hadn’t said a word. He and his family had been living for many years on a very low budget, and now as he slowly realized what Hashem had done for him, he was in absolute awe. He was speechless. And then, the first words that came out of his mouth were a soft: “Thank You, Hashem . . . Thank You, Hashem.” And then, after a moment, he said to his guest, “Yes, that’s fine with me. . . Thank you.” And within a few weeks Yaakov’s life changed completely. And then he was able to express his love of Hashem in even more ways than before.
* This is based on a true story told by Yair Koren in Eretz Yisrael. Only a few minor details were changed for privacy, including names.