28 Av 5781 / Friday, August 06, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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In Plane Sight    

In Plane Sight

"This is your pilot speaking. There are some snow flurries tonight but we'll be landing in Boston within the hour.” She shrieked; she was supposed to be flying to Baltimore...


It was such a crazy thing that happened and it’s always made me wonder...


That bitter February day I was under a tremendous strain. My father had died two days earlier and I was on my way to Baltimore together with a seven month old daughter and a terrible cold. I barely remember the flight from Israel, being in shock and coping with my cranky baby.


Sitting in the New York airport at two in the morning, waiting for my connecting flight, I almost broke down. I felt so bad I had missed my dad's funeral. But flying to the states on Shabbos (the Sabbath) had been out of the question. I had been observant for almost twenty years and had learned that “More than you guard Shabbos, Shabbos  guards you.” Despite the passionate urging of some well-meaning relatives, I wouldn't even consider it.


Well at least I’d be with my family for shiva (the week of mourning). I couldn't wait to embrace my poor mother. She had married at eighteen and built her life around my father. When, at forty, he decided to become religious again (as he had been raised) she went right along with the very major life changes, especially Sabbath observance.


It was my father who had inspired me.


My flight to Baltimore was finally announced. I jumped up and made a beeline for the boarding gate, handing my ticket to the tired-looking clerk. As he waved me through, I began to struggle with the baby, stroller, purse and large carry on. Suddenly, two teenagers came to my rescue. As we headed for the plane I thought one girl looked familiar. “Are you originally from Baltimore?” I asked her. She looked at me strangely. “No,” she said. Okay, I thought glumly, just trying to be friendly.


I was strapped in, my baby finally asleep and the plane started rolling down the runway. Over the roar of the engine I heard the pilot's deep voice, “Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your pilot speaking. There are some snow flurries tonight but even so we should be landing in Boston within the hour.”


“BOSTON! DID HE SAY BOSTON?” I started to freak out, my heart pounding like a drummer on speed. “Help!” I screamed. “I’m on the wrong plane! I need to go to Baltimore!”


As the stewardess ran over to me, I ripped off my seat belt and grabbed my sleeping daughter, who woke up and began shrieking hysterically. Everyone stared at me but I could not have cared less. With only $50 in my purse, a nursing baby and a terrible cold I was NOT going to freezing Boston, where I knew absolutely no one. And I would NOT miss one more day of shiva for my father!


The pilot was able to stop the plane and the stewardess rushed me off as quickly as she could, muttering apologies for the mix-up. I realized that as stupid as I felt, they felt even worse for not having checked my ticket more carefully.


A half hour later I was finally on the right plane, heading in the right direction. I don't know if refusing to break my commitment not to travel on Shabbos is what saved me but I never doubted that by keeping it, I was on the right path, the holy one. And if you keep on the path God gave you, He'll make sure you end up at your correct destination!



* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen began her career as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Silver Spring, Md. in the seventies. After moving to Israel, she worked as a marital mediator and social skills instructor for kids. Following the death of a son, Rebbitzen Channen became a certified bereavement counselor and worked with young mothers who had suffered loss. Most recently she worked at the Melabev Center for the memory-impaired, as an activity director and group facilitator for families coping with Dementia.  The Rebbitzen has written for numerous magazines and newspapers and recently led an interactive creative writing course called Connective Writing. Yehudit Channen is the wife of Rabbi Don Channen, Rosh Yeshiva of Keter HaTorah.  They are blessed to have nine children and many grandchildren and live in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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