I stood looking at a very large, life size replica of what could only be described as an ugly plastic spider. The kind brothers love to torture little sisters with. Strange, I thought to myself as I looked in the corner of the girls room. It just didn't seem to fit the decor –it was a strange thing to find in a room of pink curtains and throw pillows; something a couple girls would not necessarily display, let alone own. I called my preschooler over to investigate.
“Did you get this in gan?” I asked her as she looked down at the ugly specimen. She shook her head in the negative.
“Are you sure?” I asked again. She shook her head once more, and ran off to play. Maybe I'm just seeing things, and it's actually some yarn knotted up...hmmm.....my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by some pressing something or other, I left the room, and promptly forgot about it.
Sometime later, I came back into the room and asked my older daughter about the spider. She was sitting with a friend, and I pointed to the now empty space, asking her whether she saw it in the corner of the room. A blank stare only deepened the mystery. She had not seen any plastic spider, and now neither did I. I furrowed my brow, and thought about how icky it would be if that spider was really a live walking one, and not of the fake variety. In the few seconds it took me to formulate these thoughts, I decided that HaShem runs the world, and I had too many things to do than worry about presumed plastic spiders that could actually be knots of yarn, that could actually be nothing at all! So I filed the spider mystery away for another time, and proceeded with my day.....
Or so I thought.
I must digress that I once took a writing class where I wrote a non-fiction story about a particular event that actually took place. It was a tragic-comedic piece, and one of the comments I received from the instructor was, “You can't write about your life like a cartoon.”
Well, I thought, sometimes my life does resemble a cartoon more often than not, and if that is how HaShem decides to script my life, then what can I do? I am simply describing the facts. Which is why what happened next seemed to be another strip in the comedy of my life....
The screams coming from the direction of the girls room confirmed it, and my mind knew it before two overwrought girls burst on the scene to verify what I already understood—that had been no plastic spider—that spider was not only ugly (sorry HaShem—there is just no other way to describe it!) but REAL!
I happened to be on the phone with my dearest friend, whose ear I almost blew off mid conversation as I started screaming hysterically to close the door to the room. Everyone was jumping up and down at the thought of a baby tarantula (for that is what it looked like) roaming around. Somehow in between everyone's screams, those bravest amongst us (I was not one of them) managed to capture the previously scary plastic spider—now turned real—under a plastic container. Then we closed the door.
“Now what?” I said, trying to catch my bearings.
“Call the snake catcher!” My daughter's friend suggested.
Now why didn't I think of that?
We happen to live in a city in Eretz Yisroel nestled in the beautiful Judean hills. Along with the beauty, our neighborhood has seen its share of spiders and other creepy crawly, er, creepy crawlies. There is a Tzaddik in our midst who as a chessed for the community has designated himself as the resident snake catcher, any time of day or night, including Shabbos. What was a 'little' spider, I thought, compared to a snake?I lunged for the phone book and found his number—fortunately, he picked up the phone.
After all the formalities and pertinent information had been dispensed with, he told me he would arrive at our home in a few minutes. I heaved a sigh of relief and directed those bravest amongst us (not me) to check on our spider while I nervously counted down the minutes to salvation.
The snake catcher finally arrived, accompanied by his loyal wife, and about half the building. Everyone waited in our living room, as the snake catcher donned his specially designed anti snake gloves. After gathering the rest of his creepy crawly paraphernalia, he went into the room and closed the door.
Of course, I was videoing the entire event for the family archives, much to the consternation of some of the oldest in the house. Also, to show my husband once he got home, since at the time he couldn't understand why I had bothered the snake catcher over a 'little spider', which of course, this was anything but.
The minutes ticked by, and there was no sign of either the snake catcher, nor of the not so itsy bitsy spider. We waited. And waited some more. And just when I thought that maybe I was going to have to call for back up for the snake catcher, and wouldn't that really vindicate me as a non-exaggerator, the door swung open, and there stood the snake-now -turned- spider -catcher. Holding the spider triumphantly in a plastic jar. With a lid.
Three cheers for the spider- snake -catcher! After examining the spider, he determined that while not venomous, if someone had actually been bitten, it could have caused a nasty bacterial infection. Yikes! It was further determined that the spider had probably been a souvenir from my daughter's Shabatton up North the previous Shabbos. Her suitcase was still in the room, and that is where the spider had been near when I first made its acquaintance.
After the excitement had passed, and the spider was escorted away by our neighborhood hero, and the rest of the neighbors had gone, I had time to contemplate the wondrous ways of HaShem, and how so many things that could go wrong—usually don't! We tend to focus so much on what does go wrong in our lives. But how often do we stop and say “Tatty! That could have been really bad! Thank you Tatty! Thank you!”
I think of all the things that could have gone awry in this scenario. What if I had picked up the 'plastic spider' to examine it? What if it had bitten any of us, especially at night, when everyone was sleeping?! A couple of our children sleep on pull out beds pretty close to floor level....what if I hadn't spotted it in the first place, or the girls hadn't been in the room at the time to witness its escape..what if....what if......
All these incidents are HaShem's orchestrated way of telling us, “You see—I am right here, making sure that what could go wrong, does not.” How many times haven't we walked away from a situation saying, “Whew! That was close!” And how many times have we turned our eyes upward and given credit where credit is due---to our Creator no less, Who arranges things just so we can realize that He is there, ensuring our safety and well being. How many times do we actually say “Thank You HaShem—for sparing me, even if I don't deserve it, Thank You Tatty, for all the things that DO go right....”
A spider can be a great tool for seeing the Yad HaShem—the Hand of HaShem --in our lives. HaShem created everything, from spiders, to spider snake catchers, to hysterical mothers afraid of spiders—and He also Created the solutions, and the wherewithal to deal and overcome these situations. Whether it be cats with jars on their heads, or spiders safely ensconced inside jars. Whatever the case may be, we have only to think of all the incredible possibilities and probabilities that abound in the world, and how HaShem keeps tabs on them all-- and on all of us.