19 Av 5780 / Sunday, August 09, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Miracle Car    

The Miracle Car

Now we not only have a “miracle car”; we have a miracle story. In the following days and weeks, we repeated the miracle story to anyone and everyone...


On Sunday October 9, 2016, the morning following Shabbat Shuvah, my children and I walked out of our apartment, anticipating a wonderful family outing.  The warm, autumn sun seemed to promise a gorgeous day at the park-- the perfect exclamation point after the inspiring Rosh Hashanah of services the previous week.  Instead, we were met with a surprise.  A few steps out the door, my son and daughter turned to me, “Mom, where’s the car?”


Stopping in my tracks, I looked up to see that our usual parking space was empty.  Our silver Mercury, a gift from a beloved family member, was nowhere to be seen.  Letting out a nervous, astounded chuckle, I visually scanned the parking lot.  The reality of the situation began to sink in.  For the first time in our lives, we were the victims of auto theft.  Words, memories, and images tumbled around my brain as I rushed back inside to tell my husband, and later, the police.  How did this happen?  When did we last use the car?  The second set of keys—where were they?  Piecing bits together, the story became clear.  Friday afternoon. Pre-Shabbat errands. Unloading multiple grocery bags from the car.  The keys, having fallen out of a purse or pocket, must have been inside the car.  An unlocked vehicle with keys in sight was too easy for a thief to pass up.


We felt terrible.  Our car was gone because of our own negligence, and our bare-bones insurance coverage would not replace it.  After a few of tears and anger-tinged guilt, my husband and I looked at our son.  He was unphased and a bit surprised by our behavior.  “Why are you so sad, Mom?  Rabbi Lazer Brody always says gam zu l’tovah - so, this too is from Hashem and all for the best. I mean, G-d provided that car for us in the first place.  He can get us another one.”  After years of reading Rav Shalom Arush’s books and Rav Brody's lessons while constantly repeating emuna lessons to our children, it was they who turned around and taught us.


Our son was right.  With some initial difficulty, we began saying to ourselves, “Thank you, Hashem, that our car was stolen.  Gam zu l’tova.  Like Rav Arush wrote in his books, thank you that this ‘bargain basement atonement’ came to us in this world instead of the next.  Thank you, G-d!”


In the following days and weeks as we recounted the story to friends and family, we would say, “Gam zu l’tovah. G-d will work it all out. We are thankful we had that nice car for the time we did.”  I found myself laughing about the experience of walking out the front door to an empty parking space.  We even tried to think the best of the thief.  “Hopefully he’s using it to drive his grandmother to the grocery store,” we would chuckle.  Sympathetic community members rose to the occasion.  A ride to school events, the grocery store, and medical appointments required only a phone call to an entire list of people who readily stepped up to help.   And, as the weeks and months passed, a curious thing began to dawn on me.  The loss of our car was a big blessing, not only for my family, but the whole community.  Our trust in Hashem was challenged, stretched, and, in the end, increased.  Through sharing rides, I was able to spend time with some wonderful people whom I didn’t otherwise see on a regular basis. Lastly, our loss provided the community with multiple chances to do mitzvahs (good deeds) by helping us.


On Thursday February 23, 2017, we received a registered letter from an auto towing service in south Atlanta, Georgia, over 120 miles away, stating that they were in possession of our car and that we must come claim it.  Incredible!  


We made the two-hour trip to Atlanta, expecting the vehicle to be damaged and stripped of its parts—completely unusable.  As we traveled, I prayed to Hashem, “Thank You for a resolution to this story.  Thank You for allowing us to have that car, even if only for a little while.  Thank You that You will take care of every detail.  Thank You for being so good to us.”


All the while, a strange thing kept happening during the long drive. Every so often, a vehicle that was the same model as our stolen car would pass by us in the next lane, or pull up next to us at a traffic light, or slowly roll past us in the stop-and-go rush-hour traffic of Atlanta.  After the second incident, joyful giggling and laughter bubbled out of me each time I spotted one.  “I think Hashem is trying to tell us that we are going to get our car back in good shape,” I told my husband.


Much later, as darkness began to fall, we pulled into the wrecker yard.  Passenger jets arriving at the busy Atlanta airport screamed overhead as we made our way to the dimly-lighted office.  Once paperwork and numerous fees had been squared away, the attendant, a jovial African-American gentleman, led us to the fenced-in yard.  It was filled with over one hundred lost, abandoned, and damaged vehicles.  I blinked.  Right in the first row was our silver Mercury, completely intact, with no signs of body damage.  My husband and I looked at each other, smiled, and walked faster.


“It was abandoned at a motel near here,” the attendant told us. “It had been there a while, and they called us to come tow it away.”


Thankful that I had remembered to bring the remaining set of keys, I clicked to unlock the doors.  It worked!  Holding my breath in anticipation, I opened the driver’s side door to an amazing sight: the interior was immaculate!  Covering my face with my hands, I began laughing incredulously as I slid into the polished driver’s seat, inhaling the strong scent of air-freshener as I turned the keys in the ignition.  The engine started right up.  Lights turned on.  The radio chattered to life. Everything worked just fine!  All it needed was a full tank of gas and a little oil. I collapsed in laughter across the front seat, “Thank you, Hashem! Thank you, Ha Kadosh Boruch Hu! Thank you! Thank you!”


My husband related the whole story to the attendant, whose eyes grew wider upon hearing each new detail.  “Ooooooh!” he shouted. “You’re blessed!  The L-rd sent you a blessing! He was watching out for you!”  We all laughed and smiled together as he called to his friend across the lot, “Hey!  This car was stolen four months ago, and they got it back!”


It was true.  Four and a half months after being stolen, Hashem made a miracle and returned our car to us.  The interior had been completely detailed by the thieves to erase their fingerprints, so the vehicle came back cleaner than when we lost it.


Now we not only have a “miracle car”; we have a miracle story.  In the following days and weeks, we repeated the miracle story to anyone and everyone—at school, synagogue, at the doctor’s office, in line at the market; each time saying, “Gam zu l’tovah. It was all for the good!”

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