Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Phone Call: Last Week's Divine Providence

Received from a friend. Actual names were removed from this post.
A neighbor who is our age, is studying towards Smicha at Merkaz HaRav. He was supposed be there the night of the shooting, last Thursday evening. He is a doctor and got a call from his hospital saying that he must go in. He is not a 'regular' doctor - he either reads x-rays or is an anesthesiologist.

He was annoyed because he knew he didn't really have to be at the hospital and that he would get to yeshiva late. In the end, he pulled up in front of Merkaz a little after 8:30 PM and found the ambulances there. He called his Chevruta who told him that there was shooting going on and they were all on the floor in the dark and he should get out of there.

The next morning he spoke to this friend. Because our neighbor was not there, they did not have a minyan. They were waiting around for one more person when the shooting started. They closed the lights and hit the floor. If he had gotten there on time, they would have finished Maariv and been down in the room where the shooting happened.

10 men were saved because of that call from the hospital.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Thanks, Jameel, for posting this. I heard it from the same person you did...

I heard Rabbi Y. Frand last week on Tefila. He spoke about Nachshon Waksman hy"d and the atzeret tefillah before he was killed. He reminded us that NO tefillah is wasted. He reminded us that Nachson's father told Rav Elon at the FUNERAL to tell people that the atzeret tefilla was not wasted. Rav Frand told us that at the shiva, one of the chayalim who was in the rescue party came to R. Wachsman and told him that with the number and intensity of the bullets flying, many more should have been killed or injured (only Nachshon and the commander of the rescue force died). R. Wachsman said that the tefillot at the kotel to save a chayl were answered, just not for his son.

This past Thursday afternoon there was an atzeret at the Kotel. My daughter tells me that dinner was late at Merkaz/Yashlatz, so fewer people were in the library because they were at dinner.

Who knows, who knows...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your profound theological insight, Jameel. I'll make sure to share this post with my son, whose two classmates through eighth grade were "in that room" learning and were murdered by the terrorist. I'm sure it will explain a lot to him, and assuage his grief, rage, and incomprehension. PLEASE - for the sake of the integrity of your fine blog - avoid forays into the realm of "Tzaddik v'Ra Lo". It's a minefield into which theological simpletons charge ahead where great tzaddikim fear to tread. One man's "redemptive phone call" is the next man's "summons to death". So please, honor the memory of these precious boys by avoiding the miracle stories that favor some at the expense other equally fervent Ovedei Hashem whose lot was not so fortunate.

Anonymous said...

The feelings are mixed. I feel sad for those who were unfortunate to be in that horrible situation. But I'm happy for those who survived

my prayers are with them

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great story! Divine providence certainly saved those 10 guys. The call from the hospital couldn't just have been a coincidence. Nope, it was definitely God who saved them.
Of course, that means it was also God who killed the 8 who died. Or perhaps He couldn't manage more than one miracle that particular Thursday night. Perhaps He ran out of loose change to make another call?
Please, let's have no more infantile theology. If you haven't anything sensible to say on the age-old question of theodicy, just don't say anything.

Anonymous said...

As hard as it is to accept, both good and sad incidents are from G-d. We however don't know the reasoning.

This incident is extremly sad. lets come together in prayer. And my G-d have compassion on us

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yehoshua Kahan and The Junior:

I don't see how the above story in any way detracts from the memory of those killed and wounded in the terror attack last week -- nor is the writer of the letter guilty of infantile theology.

Good things and bad things happen to people all the time, and they are all from G-d. The story doesn't say that because the 10 people who weren't killed were tzaddikim, and therefore saved, or vice versa.

The Junior: Tell me, do you honestly view life as one coincidence after another? The point of this story is that for one particular group of people, for no reason that we understand, they were spared the horror of the attack....and that what seemed like a simple, annoying phone call, ended up being their saving reason.

The person who wrote the letter was expressing hakarat hatov for not being killed -- that in no way whatsoever detracts from the teenagers who were killed and wounded. Those who survived, and those who didnt were the result of G-d's will. I dont see how the above story places any justification towards either group.

Anonymous said...

Why attribute the saving of the 10 to God but not the murder of the 8?
A God who interferes to save 10 but decides not to save the 8 also isn't a God I believe in. God - whatever s/he or it is - lets us get on with running, or ruining, this world as we see fit. So I don't expect too much of Him.
And of course the theology in your friend's piece is infantile: please get him to read some theology and then get back to me (I can suggest a reading list if you'd like).

DTC said...

We saw the same types of stories and comments back at 9/11.

Bottom Line: when it's your time to go, the RBS"O will arrange for it, and if it's not your time to go, then the RBS"O will arrange for that as well. It's just that somehow we tend to forget, which makes these stories powerful reminders.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Jameel.

Does the doctor carry a pistol? How about any of the other nine? Could it be that the phone call was God's trick for keeping some armed men out of the way so the terrorist could wreak his divinely ordained destruction?

Running the world is a very complicated business, even with hindsight. One ought to be exceedingly humble about claiming to understand God's ways.

I agree that it is appropriate for each of us to be thankful for the divine gift of still being here. This is true every day, but Thursday's events bring it into sharper focus, and I imagine that the closer one was to the tragedy, the sharper the focus.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ironi: One ought to be exceedingly humble about claiming to understand God's ways.

I still do not understand why this is such an issue. No one is claiming to understand G-d's ways, or even explain them. The story quoted doesn't claim to have any reasons, rationalizations, or understanding for "why" things turned out the way they did.

However, the point was (I think) that people should understand, for good and for bad, that even the seemingly trivial aspects of our lives, are guided through Divine Providence.

Exceedingly humble? I dont even know I get up every day...that doesn't mean I deserve to live more than anyone else. But for someone to send out a story of a seemingly trivial annoyance of a phone call which keeps him out of harms way -- doesnt mean at all that he claims he "deserved" to continue living more than anyone else. It was more of his own personal awareness that last Thursday was not the day he was supposed to die.

mevaseretzion said...

This story highlights God's providence in protecting 10 people. No one is claiming to understand why one dies and the other lives -- but we do have to, in the words of the mishna at the end of Brachot -- חייב אדם לברך על הרעה כשם שמברך על הטובה.

Anonymous said...

A few days after making aliyah, my wife (who was six months pregnant_ went into premature labor -- horrible experience. The baby died after a day of incubators and all sorts of medical treatments. then a few months later, during sukkos, we were at a friend's house. And the daughter (20 at the time) was telling a story about a rabbi whose child was dangerously ill, and how miracle after miracle happened -- the plane to take them to the US for treatment was held up and they made the flight, for example. So the baby was saved.

I remember feeling upset at that story -- not that I didn't accept divine providence, but that this girl was telling the story -- and she knew what we had just been through -- i thought it was insensitive.

But then i realized as Jameel is saying here -- that God saving one child only shows that our child dying was not random -- but Divinely ordained -- and that made me feel better.

It actually made me feel better -- because it was kind of a message from Hashem -- what you went through was not random, it was for a reason. God has not abandoned you, but has a plan in mind. We may not know why or how, but we can rest assured that events in this world, people dying, or people being saved, are from God.

Lurker said...

Jameel: Those who survived, and those who didnt were the result of G-d's will.

the junior: Why attribute the saving of the 10 to God but not the murder of the 8?

Junior -- it seems like you don't read so well...

Lurker said...

Jameel -- clearly you have upset quite a few people by recounting this story that happened to your friend. I advise you to calm everyone down by announcing that you lied in your original post, and that your friend actually never recieved any such phone call.

Commenter Abbi said...

Lurker and Jameel
It's an issue of timing. People still freshly grieving loved ones are probably not in the mood to hear how God chose to save 10 other men, when He chose to have their son/grandson/nephew/neighbor mowed down in cold blood. In fact, it's just plain insensitive, as many of these people are probably quite angry with God, no matter how frum they are. And they have every right to be. It's beyond agonizing to lose a loved one in such a horrible way.

Whether your story is theologically sound or not, it's like throwing rock salt in the wounds of people grieving right now. (I am also not a fan of these stories especially for this reason and because it just simplifies Gd's behavior and decision making way too much)

Anonymous said...

To clear a few things up, I was one the saved 10. I have written up my experience as well as a theological attempt to come to terms with the questions raised in this blog. Interested parties can read it at:
or the short version at:

Besorot Tovot,

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