It was Mindy's first time on an airplane, flying to a
friend's wedding in California. Everything had been well
planned in advance until... the bride asked her to pick up a
heavy suitcase of smorgasbord food on the way to the airport -
and she did. A disagreeable old lady screamed for an aisle
seat - and Mindy gave up her place. A cranky young boy
pestered her throughout the flight but she remained calm and
treated him as a loving big sister would have. Could such a
series of annoyances and mishaps possibly have a happy
ending? Yes, indeed! In fact, it was a finale made in
This is just one of the 47 fascinating stories in "Chance
Encounters?", recently published by ArtScroll. Its main theme
is Divine Providence -at different times in history, but
mostly in the present and at very personal daily levels,
especially focusing on shidduchim, which is always
This book is for all ages and backgrounds. It holds
everyone's interest and we predict that it will soon be
translated in other languages and become an international
favorite. There is one problem with this book, however:
everyone in the family wants to read it at once! You may have
to buy more than one copy to keep the peace in the house [but
you can always donate the extra to a library...].
It seems there are two types of readers: those who must keep
reading until they finish the entire book and those who
prefer to savor one story at a time. I had to finish the book
in one sitting; each story whetted my appetite for more. And
there were some that I read again to savor its various facets
fully - humor, inspiration and human insight.
I smiled at "Haircuts", was fascinated [actually held my
breath] by Marguerite Cohen's bravery in rescuing four Jewish
children trapped in Nazi controlled territory, and was
impressed by one lady's kindness for owners of cars that were
parked at expired meters. In fact I was tickled by the fact
that I knew her! She was real, and so are all the other
characters featured in the book, which makes it all the more
inspirational, that is, sets examples for us to emulate.
History, recent and less recent, comes to life in many
stories, while the book maintains an upbeat rhythm of our
daily venue. Each story appealed to the emotions as well as
to the intellect, but why analyze something so thoroughly
enjoyable and worthwhile? It simply appeals - to all
Optimistic, cheerful and richly rewarding, we will step aside
and let two samples speak for themselves:
David Miller was driving along the highway at a steady clip
of 60 miles per hour. It was erev Shabbos and the car
was crowded, the kids were fidgeting impatiently, the baby
needed a change - every good reason to maintain the greatest
speed permissible on that road.
Suddenly there was a queer noise. The rooftop rack was
rattling and scraping. From the racket overhead, it seemed
about to fall off. David slowed down; luckily, he was in an
outside lane, with no cars near him.
As he slowly went around the next curve, he saw a family
crossing the road right in front of him. It was a family of
deer: a buck, a doe and an adorable little Bambi. Now hitting
a deer is dangerous for the animal - and even more so for the
passengers in the car, which was inches away from the
animals. At his previous rate of speed, David surely would
have hit at least one of the deer.
The rack did not rattle again until they reached their
destination. When they got out to inspect the car, they saw
that one single bolt was loose.
"I can't imagine why this should have made such a racket,"
"Well, I can," answered his wife.
And one on shidduchim.
Elke Friedman met her friend and former neighbor, Susie
Goldberg, at the annual N'shei Chesed gathering in
"How are you, Susie? I haven't seen you for ages. And how's
that cute little Motty of yours?"
"Cute he is, but not little. He's almost six feet tall, 22
years old and just about ready to get married."
"You don't say! Well, I know the perfect girl for him. Same
background - a little bit Hungarian, a little bit `Poylish',
mostly American. It's Chavie Engel, the daughter of my
neighbor down the street. Very sweet looking. Also tall,
brown eyes, brown curly hair - why, she reminds me of how
your Motty used to look before he got his haircut! And her
parents are the nicest people! Her grandfather was a nephew
of Reb Yossele Kopolner, and..."
"That sounds very interesting," said Susie. "But tell me,"
and she looked around to see if anyone was listening, and
whispered into Elke's ear, "tell me, are they
"Comfortable? They're very comfortable! In fact, they're just
about the most comfortable family I know."
"All right, Elke, we'll be in touch. I can't wait to get home
and tell Sol about this. It sounds great!"
The friends parted amiably, and a few days later, the
telephone rang in Elke's kitchen.
"Hi, Elke, it's Susie. Thank you so much for thinking about
our Motty. We discussed it and we're very interested in this
Chavie Engel. So please get in touch with them. You
did say they're comfortable?"
"Oh, very much so, Susie. I'll call them and get back to you
soon as I have an answer."
A few days later, Motty Goldberg met Chavie Engel. After
several more meetings, they knew they were meant for each
The Engels inivted Motty's parents to their home to get
acquainted, and the Goldbergs accepted the invitation with
pleasure; they could hardly wait to meet the wonderful girl
and her wonderful parents whom their Motty raved about.
They were surprised when they pulled up in front of the
Engel's house. It was so small, so - so - ordinarly looking.
But perhaps the Engels were people of that European type,
plain outside, lavish inside?
No. The interior consisted of several box-like rooms, with
old furniture that verged on the shabby. The Engels gave the
Goldbergs a very warm, friendly welcome. Soon everyone was
chatting easily, seated arund the broad dining room table.
Mrs. Engel brought in tea and delicious chocolate chip
cookies. In the course of conversation, they found that they
had many friends, and even relatives, in common.
Motty and his parents stayed much longer than they had
planned. After dropping off Motty at his yeshiva for night
seder, Sol Goldberg asked his wife, "Didn't you say
they're comfortable? it sure didn't look like it to me."
"Well, Sol, Elke Friedman said they are, and she should know.
Maybe they're the kind who don't flaunt their money... and
the girl seems very nice."
Pretty soon an engagement was announced. A happy, noisy crowd
gathered in the small Engel home to congratulate the young
couple and their parents. Elke Friedman, whose idea it had
been, had a place of honor among the ladies.
The mother of the groom turned to Mrs. Friedman.
"We're very happy with Chavie - she's a darling. But didn't
you say that the Engels are comfortable?"
"Oh, they are! They are! They make me feel so comfortable
whenever I come, so warm and welcome, and just look - I bet
everyone here feels the same about them. The Engels are the
most comfortable people I know! And did you ever taste her
chocolate chip cookies?"
A word can make a difference. If Mrs. Goldberg had asked,
"Are they well-off?" or more crassly, "Do they have money?"
woudl Motty and Chavie ever have met?
It's like that old joke, "If my grandmother had wheels, she'd
be an automobile." But grandmothers don't have wheels.
It was fated that this particular expression should be used
by Mrs. Goldberg, and that Mrs. Friedman should understand it
in a different sense. When a couple is destined to be united
in marriage, not a word or a world will stand in the way.
Forty-five great more stories to go...