13 Sivan 5779 / Sunday, June 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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A Slap in the Face    

A Slap in the Face

Her whole world was caving in - no more income, no more car insurance and then a nasty accident; her friends were asking, "What do you need Rav Arush for?"


Last week, I hit a tough patch. My finances got so tight that the bank machine ate my card, leaving me with barely any food and around $3 in my purse. My husband left his job as a lawyer last month, because he just couldn't do it any more. How could you have a 'UK lawyer' with really long sidecurls and a beard? How could he continue to hear all the gory details about kiddie porn issues at work, five minutes before showing up in class in yeshiva? How could he continue to find all those dodgy legal loopholes that he's so good at, but that aren't exactly the epitome of 'straight'?
So he had to quit, and I supported him. He's got another project in the pipeline - in around a year, maybe it will come on line - but in the meantime? We were meant to be getting a few modest payments from my husband's former partner, to buy out his share, and then, we had to depend on real miracles and emuna.
But that first payment didn't come through, and a few months earlier than planned, I found myself in a very big financial test, and already talking about 'needing to sell up and move', which is not so simple, because my kids are getting older and are in a place that's currently very good for their souls.
I felt completely trapped, with no good solution in sight, so I did what I always do, and I ran off to the tomb of a holy person to pray, this time the Baba Sali, in Netivot. I was there for an hour; on the way out, I picked up an old lady who wanted a lift into town, and long story short, I got into a collision.
I had no money, no drivers' license, no ID, and it subsequently turned out two hours' later, no car insurance either. My car was broken - miraculously, it was barely dinted, but it refused to start. And I was stuck in a town 45 minutes away from home, with no way of getting back.
Worse, the collision was my fault, legally. Worse, there were officially 'casualties' because the old lady I picked up - who was fine, thank G-d - decided she should go in the ambulance for a check up 'just in case', which meant that the police were now involved, and I had a court case against me.
The front of the other car was pretty badly damaged, although they were also all miraculously fine, thank G-d (none of the small kids in the back were wearing seat-belts, and they were going pretty fast when we collided). Usually, the insurance would take care of it all. But after seven years of driving the same car with the same insurance guy, three months' ago it lapsed and he hadn't been able to contact us to let us know, because we'd changed our phone number.
A very good friend came to pick me up from the police station, and I cried my heart out all the way home. Why was G-d doing all these terrible things to me? How could you do a 'good deed', and apparently get so punished for it?
I had other questions, too: had I done the right thing, by encouraging my husband to quit his soul-destroying job? What if we had to sell the house and move to some titchy little dump, in the middle of the school year? Worse, other people also had questions: "Is this where following Rav Arush gets you?" one person wanted to know. "You were doing a kindness, why didn't it protect you?" someone else asked. All good questions. All questions I had no idea how to answer, because I felt that my emuna had cracked, and I was falling through a massive spiritual gap.
I got home and went to bed, which usually helps a treat, because tomorrow is always another day. I got up the next morning, and the emuna wobbles continued. Someone told me that there's a possible three year jail term for driving uninsured (!) which set off another massive panic. I was falling, falling, falling…
And then, I started yelling out to G-d, really, that He had to give me some emuna and pronto, because otherwise I was going to fall into a very deep, very black hole, and who knew how long it would take to climb out of it again?
Within a few minutes, He answered. I felt my mood change. I felt some anger kick in, and I had a surge of adrenalin. I was not going to let all the scoffers win! I was going to pray, and pray and pray, and not give up, and I was going to wait and see what miracles G-d was going to pull out of His bag for me.
G-d doesn't help us because we are perfect; He helps us because He is infinitely compassionate, regardless of our merits. My husband spoke to his rabbi, and got a bit more clarity: the accident was meant to happen. The kindnesses I did probably saved my life. The only thing to do was to regret the fact that I suspected G-d of doing 'bad' things, and to be happy.
Other things we were told: poverty only comes to help fix bad character traits and get us closer to G-d. (Yup, I got instantly humbled when I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cash, no car and no means to get home.) Everyone who wants to get close to G-d has to go through these things - no exceptions. And G-d is good. We were going to end up happier and better off than when the whole crazy process started.
My head wasn't so impressed, but my soul and my heart got filled up by the rabbi's words. I just felt calm again. I felt like I had some emuna again. I felt like, thank G-d, it was going to be OK, whatever happens.
G-d has a plan. We aren't in charge of our lives, however much we like to think we are. People can talk emuna until they are blue in the face, but to live it means to be happy, even when things look bad, and to appreciate all the good that still exists in life. And with G-d's help, that's what I'm going to try to do.
PS: The next day after I wrote this, and did a pidyon nefesh or 'soul redemption' at Chut Shel Chesed, where you pay a holy man (in this case, Rav Arush) to pray for you, three major miracles happened:
Miracle 1: The garage who fixed the other person's car cut their bill by 40%, when they found out we'd be paying out of pocket
Miracle 2: A friend picked up the tab for the remaining 60%
Miracle 3: It turned out my car only needed a new fuse to work again, not a massive engine overhaul.
G-d is great! Emuna works. And doing a redemption with Rav Arush is more than worth its weight in gold.
* * *
Check out Rivka Levy's new book The Happy Workshop based on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
Yosef Leib10/7/2013 3:22:25 AM
  how can you be so sure?
Anonymous,9/30/2013 1:32:37 PM

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