23 Av 5780 / Thursday, August 13, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
 
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A Miracle in the Forest    

A Miracle in the Forest



Oftentimes, salvation arrives when we least expect it, especially when we thank Hashem for the seemingly difficult times in life. Then, we get plenty of reasons to thank Him...

 



I had recently finished my army service and found myself learning at Yeshivat Machon Meir in Jerusalem. It was such a blessing to finally have the privilege to dedicate all my energy to Torah learning. To my advantage I had already begun doing hitbodedut (personal prayer) during guard duty shifts. Alone in the guard tower I would regularly find myself following the advice laid out in the book “In Forest Fields.” Now however, I was free to do hitbodedut whenever I wanted, not just while holding a machine gun.

 

While in the Yeshiva I’d often frequent the beautiful forest of Jerusalem and spend time there doing personal prayer. It was exhilarating to actually be doing hitbodedut in a forest. Day after day, I’d walk around there and pray for various things like getting married. Two months had passed since starting the Yeshiva and I got engaged to my wife. Although I was incredibly excited, I had no idea how I would find a job or be able to provide for our needs. On top of that, I was just starting to get into the Torah learning that my soul so desired while in the army. I didn’t want to stop everything and take the time to put together a resume and go out and “hit the pavement.” My soul wanted to keep on learning Torah, but I didn’t really have any other choice.

 

Luckily, I had been studying the “Garden of Gratitude” which teaches the importance of being thankful for even the things we don’t have. Rabbi Shalom Arush even explained that when we pray to Hashem in thankfulness that we don’t have what we think we need, it is a great sign of our Emuna. It means that we believe that Hashem is in charge and he decides what is best for us. I took this advice to heart and although it seemed completely illogical to say thanks for being broke, I nevertheless felt that there was something to the Rabbi’s words.

 

So I remember closing the book and saying to myself, “Now is the time, let’s go!” And off I went, heading to the Jerusalem forest. It was late afternoon and chilly. For a period of 30 minutes I kept saying thank you. “Hashem, I really don’t know what’s going on and how I’m going to pay for everything, but I believe that you are doing it all for a reason and that it’s all for the best. Thank you that according to logic I have to go out and look all over the place for a job. Thank you that I am going to lose out on many precious Torah learning hours to find work. Thank you for this situation that I am in, I am alone, scared, and really don’t know what to do, but I believe that it’s all for the best and thank you for the circumstance that I am in.”

 

I spent my 30 minutes saying words of gratitude like the above and then began to walk further and deeper into the forest to continue my session of personal prayer.

 

Suddenly out of nowhere I heard screaming. My army adrenaline kicked in and became extremely aware of where I was and what was going on. Then more screaming. I looked out into the direction of the commotion. Across from where I was standing was a large valley with a horse riding school on the opposite side. A middle-aged man with his two sons were trying to trespass the property to reach the main road on the other side. They had seemingly gotten lost. One of the workers there began yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON MY PROPERTY, ITS PRIVATE, YOU CAN’T BE HERE.” He began raising his arms and gave the impression that he was going to be violent any second. The situation looked really scary. My army instincts took over.

 

I yelled at the top of my lungs, “HEY!!!!!!!” The father turned his head looking in my direction, his eyes were the size of basketballs. “COME FOLLOW ME!” He and his sons quickly retreated from the area where this scary man was. I ran down the valley to meet them half way and assisted them in leaving the forest since I knew the way out due to my frequent visits. I helped carry their bikes and brought them to the main street through a different exit. My adrenaline was full blast; I was thankful that I had been exactly in that spot when this whole thing happened to them. Who knows what could have happened to them??!

 

We reached the exit of the forest, the kids got back on their bikes, the father was all smiles. I had just spent 30 minutes saying thank you for being broke and unemployed. The next thing I know the father said, “Hey would you like a job?”

 

And that was it. I started working at his business as an English teacher for orthodox men. This was my springboard opportunity into becoming a teacher here in Israel. The power of thanks is incredible; I saw it with my own eyes after one session of personal prayer.





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