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"Hashem shall do battle for you, and you shall remain silent" (Shemos 14:14).

Hashem works in wondrous ways. Often, we just have to sit back and watch Him orchestrate His world. What we will see, will strengthen our belief and faith in Him. The following fantastic story, which was sent to me, is an excellent illustration.

The brand new Rabbi and his wife had been newly assigned to their first congregation to reopen a shul in suburban Brooklyn. They had arrived in early February excited about their opportunities. However, when they had seen the condition of the premises, they had been deeply disappointed. It was very much run down and needed lots of work. They had set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Erev Purim, the 13th of the month of Adar, February 22nd. They had worked hard; repairing aged pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on the 8th of Adar (February 17th) they were ahead of schedule and had just about finished.

On February 19, a terrible snowstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the Rabbi went over to inspect the shul. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary, just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The Rabbi cleaned up the mess on the floor, and, realizing that he would have to postpone the Erev Purim service, headed for home.

On the way, he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth, with fine colors and a Mogen Dovid embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the shul. By this time, it had started to snow again. An older woman, running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. But she missed it.

The Rabbi invited her to wait in the warm shul for 45 minutes, until the next bus was scheduled to arrive. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the Rabbi while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The Rabbi could hardly believe how beautiful it looked; covering up the entire problem area.

Then the Rabbi noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was as white as a sheet. "Rabbi," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The Rabbi explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials EBG were crocheted into it there. He checked and discovered that they were. The shocked woman told him that they were her initials, and that she had made this tablecloth in Poland, 35 years before.

The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Poland. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. However, he was captured and sent to a camp and she never saw her husband or her home again. The Rabbi wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made him keep it for the shul. The Rabbi insisted on driving her home. He felt that that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day, for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Erev Purim. The shul was almost full and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. At the end of the service, the Rabbi and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. However, one older man, whom the Rabbi recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare. The Rabbi wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he had gotten the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they had lived in Poland, before the war. He wondered how there could be two tablecloths so very similar. He told the Rabbi how the Nazis had come, how he had forced his wife to flee for her safety and that he was supposed to follow her. But he had been arrested and placed in a camp. 35 years had passed since then, and he had never seen his wife or his home again.

The Rabbi asked the old man if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island; to the same house where the Rabbi had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door, and was privileged to observe the greatest Erev Purim reunion he could have ever imagined!

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel