It was 1 a.m. when my daughter Shani and her friend Tehilla took a wrong turn and found themselves traveling along a dark, isolated stretch of road outside Jerusalem. A few moments later, they noticed a young bearded man dressed in a suit and black hat flagging them down. Tehilla was surprised when Shani abruptly stopped the car. Tehilla tried to dissuade Shani from giving the young man a ride, given the late hour.
Shani responded, “You’ll understand in a minute.”
When Shani opened the door, Tehilla was surprised to see that the new passenger had Down’s syndrome. Meir (not his real name) told the friends that he had spent the evening at a nearby wedding hall, and was waiting in vain for a bus to come. He had no cell phone with which to call home.
The two girls, who had become fast friends during their Sherut Leumi service, had plenty of experience working with people with special needs, and so they were able to make Meir feel at ease. This would prove very important, since the ride lasted longer than expected.
Meir told the girls where he lived and how to reach his home. There was only one problem. Meir knew the bus route in the light of day, but he got confused at night. Shani asked other drivers for directions, but only got more lost. Half an hour later, the three found themselves in the middle of a haredi neighborhood, but not the one where Meir lived.
Shani was so frustrated that she pulled over to the side of the road and got out of the car. When Meir saw that my daughter was worried, he said simply with a kind smile, “Don’t worry. It happens in the best families.”
Suddenly, the young man said that he remembered the way. They resumed the journey, following Meir’s directions, and reached his house within seven minutes. He got out of the car and said, “You see? I knew you could do it.”
The young women felt that it was no accident that they had gotten lost down that dark road. Meir told them that all the other cars had passed him by. Hashem had orchestrated events so that the two friends came to his rescue. Meir, in turn, was able to share with them his accepting way of looking at life.
Oh, the people you can meet and the places you can get to in life – while taking the wrong turn!