12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Hitchhike to Emuna    

Hitchhike to Emuna

My words must have been very convincing in the Heavens because no sooner did the last word leave my mouth then a car rounded the bend towards us…


As I wrote about in Emuna Moments, I love to relate all the major times in my life that Hashem has shown me that He runs the world. This latest story actually took place in Israel in 1997, some 12-15 years before I’d ever heard of The Garden of Emuna. As was and is still common for Orthodox Jewish students, I was in Israel for a year to study at a yeshiva (school for study of Torah) before college.


The yeshiva I studied at is named Ohr Jerusalem or OJ for short. OJ is located on Moshav Beit Meir, a religious moshav (cooperative settlement) situated in the Judean hills, some 9 miles from Jerusalem off the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway. Whenever one of us students wanted to go into Jerusalem, we had two regular options. One option was to walk up the hill from our dormitories and catch an Israeli bus and pay for a ride to the main Jerusalem bus terminal. The other main option, more popular for us students on a budget, was to hitch a ride with one of the local Israelis who might be on his way in to the city as well. One day I found myself torn between options.


I had some minor medical issue causing me pain (it might’ve been an ingrown toenail, I can’t remember anymore) that required an appointment at a doctor’s office. My Yeshiva had helped me get an appointment with a doctor in Jerusalem and I was now at the top of the hill, waiting for a hitch to take me into the city. A friend of mine had been kind enough to learn some Mishnayos (Oral Torah) with me while I waited to catch a ride. I let a bus go by, hoping to catch a hitch. With a tight allowance, I much preferred not to have to pay for a bus. A couple of cars went by, but each time we flagged them down for a ride, they were heading towards Tel-Aviv. As time continued on, I started to get nervous about my options and the dilemma that was brewing. The next bus would be pulling up shortly. The buses came few and far between. This bus was the last bus that would arrive at the Jerusalem station early enough for me to get to my appointment. The next bus would get me into the city so late that I’d miss my appointment altogether! And although I wanted to catch a hitch, there was no guarantee I would find a hitch into town at all. What to do! All of a sudden, a thought popped into my mind about something I’d learned recently in class.


One of my classes at OJ was in Jewish hashkafa or outlook. My Rebbe for this class had just taught us about the value of learning words of Torah. Each word of Torah that we learn is a mitzvah in of itself. Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for commandment or instruction. Colloquially, we use it to mean “good deed.”  My Rebbe taught that in the next world, a spiritual world, the reward for each mitzvah is astounding. Indeed, Rabbi Lazer Brody on a CD has said as well that each mitzvah is like a priceless diamond, worth way, way more than all the money in this world. Listening to each word on a Rabbi Shalom Arush English CD can earn a person thousands of mitzvahs, since each CD has Rabbi Brody speaking thousands of words! Thinking about all the reward credit I had already built up in my then just eighteen years on this world, I decided I would buy what I needed right then.


I said to my friend, “If my words of Torah learning are so much, I would like to trade in just one of them that we learned right now for a ride into Jerusalem so I could make my appointment on time.”


My friend responded, “That’s a horrible idea! Each of these words of Torah we learnt is worth so much more than any one ride. It would be a terrible trade and value for your end of the deal.”


I said back to my friend, “Then think of it as an investment. The pain I’m in is preventing me from going to my classes. Catching a hitch to the doctor for faster treatment would enable me to get back sooner and start learning more Torah. I’d be spending a word of Torah to make much more back in return!”


My words must have been very convincing in the Heavens because no sooner did the last word leave my mouth then a car rounded the bend towards us. We flagged him down and sure enough, he was going into Jerusalem and could give me a ride.


As with my other stories, at this point, your Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) is worried that my story is going to build your Emuna. So he’s saying to you, “Big deal! So the conversation ended and he just happened to catch a ride then. It’s called statistics. It’s called coincidence. The Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway goes either to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Eventually a car was going to be happening into Jerusalem. So what!?”


So here’s the punch line: Jerusalem as most people know, is not a simple city. After the highway reaches Jerusalem, there are many choices of roads to turn towards; I want to say at least seven. My hitch could’ve been heading anywhere into the city. His particular destination took him not only the way I needed to go; my doctor’s office was on the way for him! He dropped me off right in front of the building! Thank You, Hashem! I got my treatment and medicine and headed back to OJ to start earning for that investment.


May we all continue to grow our portfolios of Emuna, Torah, and Mitzvot exponentially each day until the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days, Amen!

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