Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Are there random acts, just matters of happenstance, or does Hashem work in mysterious ways? Is His timing perfect and are we thus on His schedule? Read on.

It happened two days after this past Yom Kippur. I do not drive. Thankfully, I have two friends who drive me where I need to go. Every Wednesday, Elaine takes me to Rabbi Lichter’s Chumash class at the Baron Hirsch Shul in Memphis. After class, JoAnne picks me up, takes me to the supermarket and wherever else I need to go, and then she’ll drive me home.


Things on Wednesday run like clockwork – I make sure to be ready when Elaine comes by a little after 10 a.m. On that particular Wednesday, however, I woke up five minutes before Elaine rang my doorbell. I rushed to put on my clothes and gather my necessities – keys, medicine, phone, wallet, and watch – while my friend waited for me. Of course we got to class late, but it is one class I would not want to miss.

During class I opened the small bottle of medicine but was shocked to see that it was empty. Then I found that I had left my keys and watch at home. I tried to think how I could get out of this mess, but it was difficult to think at all without a cup of coffee.

After class I talked to Elaine about my dilemma. Luckily, I had given her a spare set of keys, and she drove us to her house to get my keys so I could go home and take my medicine, get my keys and watch and have a desperately needed cup of coffee. I called JoAnne and told her I was running late.

I felt that I had no control over what was going on that day – nothing seemed to be going right. I was not just wasting my time, but my two friends’ time as well. They each showed a lot of understanding and patience.

JoAnne was okay with picking me up much later than usual. Just when things seemed to be straightening out, I noticed that my watch stopped working. Is this day ever going to end? After supermarket shopping, JoAnne took me to a jewelry store to get my watch’s battery replaced.

I did not understand that time was ticking away towards a very special appointment.

For quite a few years I have come to realize that when a day presents a lot of problems, it’s probably very good – because Hashem is involved and is offering a special opportunity. On that Wednesday, however, I needed to be reminded of that.

While waiting to get my watch’s battery replaced, I noticed a woman paying for a necklace. When the transaction was done, she told the man behind the counter that she has a Jewish star at home from the 1700s which she would like to have appraised. That caught my attention so I asked if it was made of gold or silver. She answered that it was made of silver and added that her maternal grandmother was of “Hebrew descent.” She mentioned that said grandmother had married a Native American.

I heard myself telling her that I was Jewish and she replied, “Two Jews meet in Memphis!”

I noticed that when I mentioned that I was Jewish, the lady behind the counter who had waited on me gave me a long look. She could have been Jewish so I thought that now, perhaps, there were “three Jews who met in Memphis.”

This is the Bible Belt, where there is an abundance of churches of many denominations. Jews are a minority, numbering less than 10,000. To hear this stranger announce their Jewish background made an impact on me.

I followed the customer outside, where she told me that she had spoken many times of her Hebrew grandmother but no one had ever paid attention to her. I realized that I was in the presence of a very special person who was on a mission and not giving up. She was obviously hoping to connect with someone who could help her find out more about her roots.

She asked me what “Velaches” meant but I was stumped. Never heard that word before. Then she said, “You know, the holiday when you light a few candles.” “Oh, you mean Chanukah, when you eat latkes,” I said. “Yes, yes,” she replied enthusiastically. “Latkes. My grandmother used to make me latkes.”

I realized that perhaps Hashem was presenting me with an opportunity to work with this lady. I gave her my name and phone number on a piece of paper. That was prompted by her telling me she had a lot of questions about the Jewish religion.

Perhaps her mother and probably her grandmother had observed at least some Jewish traditions.

She told me her name is Kathy and she looked like she had a very hard life. Perhaps she was 90, I thought. It surprised me when she said that she was in a rush to meet her mother. Boy, was I wrong about her age!

I hope Kathy calls me. I could learn from her about perseverance and strength of character, and I would be grateful if I could help her in any way.

So all of the problems I encountered earlier that day were meant for me to get to the jewelry store when Kathy was there because Hashem had a meeting planned for “two Jews in Memphis.”

Also, I would like to add that I noticed the symbolism of my watch not working, because on that day I was obviously on Hashem’s time.

*I have permission from both friends to use their first names.


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