Dei'ah Vedibur - Information &

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Adar I 5765 - February 16, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family

Hashgacha Pratis loosely based on a true story
By Risa Rotman

"Is this your first trip to Israel?" the dark, curly-haired girl asked her seatmate.

"Uh, actually it is. I wasn't really planning on coming to Israel, but this really cheap student trip came along and so I thought, 'why not?'" Becky answered. "How about you?"

"Yes, it's my first trip also, but my best friend has been learning in one of these religious girls' schools for the past year. She's been e-mailing me all year long with pictures and stories. I sort of feel like I've been there."

The seatbelt light went on and the two girls snapped themselves up. Becky and her seatmate, Susan, continued to chat during the long, tiresome trip.

"I'm wiped out," Becky said. "I was up until very late, getting everything ready. You know: passports, packing, shopping. It was all so last minute."

"Well, even though I knew in advance that I'd be taking this trip, I was still left with a lot to do right before leaving, so I'm also very tired." Susan agreed. The girls thought it would be a good idea to get some rest before the plane landed.

Having enjoyed each other's company on the plane, they agreed to be roomates throughout the trip. After ten days of racing up and down the country, the girls got to know each other quite well. They climbed up Masada at sunrise, watched the sun set into the Mediteranean Sea, splashed in the Kinneret and were awestruck at their first visit to the Kotel, side by side throughout.

When they finally had some free time, Susan suggested they go visit her best friend's school. Becky amiably agreed and off they went. It was a joyous reunion between Susan and her friend, Julie. After catching up on the major events of the trip, Julie suggested that Susan and Becky sit in on a class. Their interest piqued, the girls followed Julie to the classroom. Both Susan and Becky greatly enjoyed the eye- opening lecture. "I never knew how positively Orthodox Judaism views life," Becky remarked afterward. Soon it was time for the two girls to rejoin their tour.

During the remaining days of the tour, an idea entered Becky's head. "Maybe I could extend my ticket by a week or two and take in some more lectures?" When it turned out to be feasible, Becky was thrilled. After a tearful goodbye to Susan, with promises to keep in touch, Becky made her way to the girls' school.

Julie was waiting at the gate, happy to assist Becky in any way. Becky acclimated to the school immediately. She loved the girls, the staff, and the classes. The more she learned, the more she wanted to know. She was convinced of the veracity of what she was learning.

There was just one area that Becky disagreed about vehemently — this thing called Divine Providence. She certainly believed that G-d created the world and that He influenced the major events of the world even in individuals, but she could not believe that G-d was involved in the minute-by- minute events of each human being's life. How could it be? If so, where was there room for free choice? There must be some randomness in the world.

When Becky returned home, she remained committed and slowly took on more and more mitzvos along the way; proper kashrus, Shabbos and modest dress. By the time she had finished university, she was a full-fledged observant Jewess. Along the way, she met many warm caring people to guide her. There was just one area where you'd say Becky was a non-believer. She still couldn't believe that Hashem was involved with all those small details of life.

Now that she was finished with her degree, Becky figured it was time to return to Israel for some intensive learning. But she needed to make some money before traveling. Becky sent out her resume to countless firms, with no answer. Then an excellent job for a web designer was posted on the university bulletin board and Becky quickly phoned for an interview.

The next Tuesday, Becky found herself waiting for her interview. After waiting a few moments, an acquaintance, Jenny, came in also to be interviewed for the same job. Becky went in, handed over her documents and waited for the director of the office to look over her resume and some designs she had done in the past. He seemed impressed and even satisfied. "I'm obligated to interview the next candidate, but if you want, you can wait outside to see if the job is yours." Becky was thrilled. The boss was basically telling her, that she had gotten the job.

Things didn't quite work out the way she expected. When Jenny walked in, the boss asked her full name and hometown, as was standard. When he heard she was Jenny Black from Harrisville, New Jersey, he became all excited. "Your father must be Daniel Black!" he exclaimed.

"That's right," Jenny answered surprised.

"We grew up together, until we went to college," the boss explained. "Let me see your resume. Yes... excellent! Everything is in order. It would be my pleasure to hire you." He walked Jenny to the door. When he saw Becky waiting, he said, "I'm sorry, Miss, but the position has already been filled." Becky tried not to let her disappointment show as she made her way out of the office. Later, Jenny apologized, as she explained what had happened. Becky wasn't angry with Jenny. It wasn't her fault.

A few friends from Becky's shul heard about her dilemma and suggested that she look into the Jewish Education Center. They were looking for a web artist. The pay wouldn't be great, but it would be something. Becky called for an interview.

When she arrived at the office, she noticed that it was a bit run-down. A secretary with a very warm smile greeted her, as she came in. "Rabbi Mandelbaum will be with you in a few minutes," the secretary explained. A young man with kippa and beard, working on a computer in the back corner, caught Becky's eye. Finally, Becky was called in. She immediately felt comfortable, sitting in Rabbi Mandelbaum's office. She explained how she was hoping to make money before going back to learn in Israel. Rabbi Mandelbaum was impressed with Becky's sincerety.

The wheels in his mind began to work. He asked her a number of questions, that seemed quite irrelevant to Becky. She was rather surprised, as they didn't seem work-related. In fact, Rabbi Mandelbaum barely took note of her resume at all. Even so, he seemed satisfied with what he saw and said, "Yes, we would be happy to have you work on our project. You can start on Monday morning." Becky was relieved to have finally found a job. When she came out of Rabbi Mandelbaum's office, the bearded young man was gone.

Becky enjoyed working at the Jewish Education Center. The people were upbeat, and the work was pleasant. Overall, there was a heimishe atmosphere. A few weeks after having started, Rabbi Mandelbaum called Becky into his office. "You're doing a wonderful job," he said. "I was wondering,"he continued, "would you be interested in a shidduch?"

"Why no, not at all... I really want to go back to Israel to learn. It would not be a good time to start dating," she said.

"Hmm...I see what you mean. We can discuss this again at some later point."

Becky walked out of the office a bit shaken. She did wonder if Rabbi Mandelbaum had someone specific in mind and if it could be the young man with the beard she'd seen on the day she'd come in for her interview. She had heard that he was a yeshiva student who occasionally came in to give a hand. Apparently, he'd been some kind of computer whiz, but now he was devoting his time to learning.

After a couple of months, Becky had made enough money to return to Israel. She had gained a lot, working at the Jewish Education Center. She had met some wonderful people and had even gone to their homes for Shabbos.

When it was time to take leave of Rabbi Mandelbaum, he pointed out to her, that he still wanted her to consider a certain shidduch. "The young man I am thinking of will be leaving for yeshiva in Jerusalem in a few months. In about six months, I will contact you." Becky didn't know what to answer. Would she be ready to date in six months?

Time flew by. Becky easily adjusted to seminary life. She lapped up what she learned and moved ahead rapidly. There was only one area that she still couldn't accept; this thing called Hashgocho Pratis. Could Hashem really be involved with each human being in such minute detail, at all times? How could it be?

After about six months at the seminary, some of the rebbetzins approached Becky about the idea of starting to date. She really wasn't sure what to say. What about the young man that Rabbi Mandelbaum had in mind?

A week later, Becky received a phone call . It was from Rabbi Mandelbaum. "Are you ready to date? I think it's time." By now, Becky had to agree. They set up a time and place. One of the rebbetzins would take care of all the details.

When the couple finally met, Becky's hunch was proven correct. Abie was the young man she'd seen that day at the Jewish Education Center. He seemed to know quite a lot about Becky. They were both nervous at first, but they quickly got over it. They had a pleasant evening together and agreed to ask the rebbetzin to set up another date.

It didn't take long before it was agreed that it was a perfect match, but one thing marred their happiness. Abie was concerned with Becky's lack of belief in Hashgacha Pratis. One evening, they had a rather heated argument over the subject. When she came home, Becky ran into her room, all teary-eyed. Lori, her roomate, gently asked what was wrong. When Becky sobbed out what her argument with Abie had been about, Lori listened quietly. After Becky had calmed down, Lori started to talk.

"Becky, can I ask you something?"


"Didn't you tell me, that you hadn't really planned to go on your first trip to Israel? It just sort of happened."

"That's true."

"And didn't you say that you found the seminary because you just happened to meet a nice girl on the trip, whose best friend was learning here?" Lori continued.

"Yes..."Becky answered.

"Didn't you tell me, that originally you wanted that other well-paying job but that this other girl got it because it just happened that her father had grown up with the boss of the company?"

"You're right."

"And didn't you also say that you ended up getting your job because an acquaintance happened to hear that they were looking for a web artist at Jewish Education Center?"

"Uh, yes.."Becky was beginning to get uncomfortable.

"Didn't you also say, that you were struck by the young man at the back of the room, on the day of your interview, and that you were hoping that he was the one whom Rabbi Mandelbaum had in mind?"

"I guess so."Becky paused.

"Becky, do you hear yourself ? How can you deny Hashgacha Pratis when it defines your whole life?"

Becky smiled sardonically and said, "Lori, you forgot to add the last piece... That I have you for a room-mate."


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