I once heard a saying that there is no one as rich as a poor man who finds what he thought he lost.
Two Thursdays ago, my husband and I were trying to get to Israel for the wedding of our friend Devorah Leah. She lived with us twenty years ago as a high school girl and we’ve been close to her ever since.
You can imagine how annoyed we were (my husband, mainly) when the airline cancelled our whole reservation due to air traffic, and we basically had to start booking tickets all over again, first to Newark and then to Tel Aviv, all so we could arrive before Shabbos.
To make a long and stressful story short, we got ourselves to Newark just in time to catch our breath before leaving for Tel Aviv.
As we waited to board the plane, I sat down to finish my weekly blog post. I wrote it before we left, figuring I could make any corrections on my iPhone, then send it to my son-in-law Nisson to post it. But, with only a few minutes until boarding time, I somehow deleted everything but the first two paragraphs. I had the original post in an email so I still had something to edit, but then my cursor keep returning to the same word no matter where I moved it.
I called my daughter Mushkie and told her I wanted to cry. It was time to board the plane and I wasn’t finished. I probably sounded like I would rather miss my flight than miss my post, so, well, let’s just say that Zev started to lose patience with me and my blog.
I boarded obediently but my mind was totally preoccupied elsewhere.
I was frantically texting Nisson my final changes as we were taking off. He never got my last one, that the post should be called, Why Are Jews Afraid of the Messiah? I guess we were too far into the air by then.
The next morning in Jerusalem, I checked the number of views on my web site and saw that they were on the low side, around two hundred. Typically, I get around three or four hundred each week. The blog is also on the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle’s web site, where it averages a couple of hundred views each week. I know that some posts get more than others for no apparent reason, so I really try to focus on the writing rather than the numbers. But it was hard not to be discouraged last week, especially when posting had been so challenging.
I thought maybe it was because Nisson called it, What are we afraid of? Maybe my original title would have gotten more attention.
“Should I change the title back to, Why Are Jews Afraid of the Messiah?” I asked Zev.
“Sure,” he said. “if you don’t want people to read it.”
So, if the title wasn’t the problem, what else could it be? Had I lost something in the writing? In the back of my mind, I started imagining conversations: “Yeah, I used to read it, but I don’t anymore.”
I tried not to think like that.
Then, the day before we left, Zev and I went to visit Bob, an old friend who lives in Tel Aviv. He was reading Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Through the wonders of Google and an iPad, we shared with Bob the story of Dr. Frankl’s relationship with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. We watched he Rebbe’s emissary in Vienna tell the story of how Dr. Frankl had become despondent over the lack of appreciation for his work. The emissary said the Rebbe assured Dr. Frankl, “Keep writing, you will have success.”
Which he did. According to Wikipedia, Man’s Search for Meaning has sold over 10,000,000 copies and has been translated into 24 languages.
I hoped these words to Dr. Frankl were a sign for me, but I thought, if G-d and the Rebbe want to give me a sign, I need a better one. A viral post would definitely work.
When I got home, I asked Blumi, my friend/Rebbetzin/machateneste/editor for some much needed encouragement.
She was very sure that I should continue.
Later that day, I made my routine check on the Chronicle’s web site. I clicked on, What are we afraid of? and I saw there were almost 2,100 views, nearly ten times what my posts usually get on that site, almost twice as high as my all time record, anywhere.
I had gotten my sign, finding what I thought I lost.
Later that night, I emailed the Chronicle’s CEO, Jim Busis, and told him how pleased I was by this record number. He quickly responded that they really liked this particular post and were even including it in that week’s edition of the newspaper.
But here’s the best sign of all: the post they liked so much is largely about Moshiach. The fact that mainstream Jewish newspapers are publishing articles about the Messiah is surely an indication of his imminent arrival.
All in all, this is good news for the Jews, and, in fact, the whole world.
One of the cornerstones of Chabad Chassidus is the notion of hashgacha pratis, Divine Providence. What can be seen as “coincidences” are really G-d’s involvement in the details of our lives; they simply occur through natural channels.
But, not always and not necessarily does He work that way; sometimes G-d wants to make sure we get the message.
That’s when we see miracles, if we choose to see them as such.
That’s what I saw here.