We thought we had another whole day to leisurely pack for our visit with our two toddlers to our parents in America. Then, Dad called and asked if we were at the airport already...
by David Perlow
We were almost packed and counting down the days before our trip to America. My parents couldn’t wait to see their grandchildren and my wife and I were looking forward to a few days of relaxation. The plane was scheduled for the next night at midnight. We were so stress-free knowing we still had an entire day to do some final packing. It was 9pm when my Dad called and asked if we were at the airport… I then knew at that moment what it feels to have Emuna or faith under fire. As my dear Rabbi Aharon HaLevi tells me, “Emuna is not when you have chocolate ice cream!”
“But Dad, I thought the flight was tomorrow at midnight...” I said...
“Ughh, Dave, check again... If I’m not mistaken your flight is in another four hours!!!”
“Ok Dad, let me look into that and I’ll call you back...”
I couldn’t believe it, I misread the ticket and now had thoughts of whether or not my Family and I would make it at all for the visit. Not to mention the tickets that had cost a few thousand dollars. At the time my Dad and I spoke, my wife was busy visiting her sister in the city of Modiin, 40 minutes from where I was at our home in Jerusalem. She got the news and was sobbing hysterically. She hadn’t finished packing for herself, let alone for two infants thinking we still had the next day to get ready. Our daughter was with my wife sleeping in her sister’s guest room and my son was already passed out at our home. Things were supposed to be so much different, and now I’m about to lose my flight. Three hours till take off at Ben Gurion Airport. We aren’t packed, my wife is a 40-minute drive away, and our kids are sleeping... A recipe for disaster.
At this point, I was like the character in the poem by Robert Frost a Road Not Taken. I could take the path that I and the majority of mankind is used to taking and scream, fight with my wife, curse myself, and complain to God. But somehow, with the help of two books and a few years of learning Torah concepts of faith from Rabbi Lazer Brody I was able to address this major crisis with Faith and choose the path less taken. What were the books that helped me defeat my evil inclination - The Garden of Emuna for Young People and The Garden of Wisdom.
The first book teaches you how to build your faith through various exercises. It’s in fact more like a manual on how to activate your faith in times of crisis. So for a few months I had been trying to go through the book on Shabbat. Gradually, the principles had been internalized. The most important teaching that helped me specifically in this huge test was the belief that when anything happens – that’s the way God wants it. The weeks before I was drilling this into my head. One may ask why did this aspect of faith help me so much? The answer is that it let me leave myself out of the picture. I was able to humble myself to the will of God. Although I was extremely nervous my thought process was simply, “Ok Dave, you did your best to get ready up until now. Right now God has decided that this is what needs to happen, even though you don’t understand why. If God wants you to go you’re going to go, and if not that is also what God wants.”
As my wife frantically woke up our daughter and sped her way from Modiin to Jerusalem, I hurried myself to get ready, packing whatever looked important, skipping any pre-flight shower and then calmly trying to wake up my son. Right now it was all about keeping the peace between my wife and I because no matter how great a relationship one may have, a situation like this can leave a couple scarred for years if it isn’t handled properly with Emuna.
Every few minutes on her drive back, we’d talk on the phone. “Pack this, don’t forget the baby wipes, fill up the bottle with hot water...” My wife never sounded so scared or confused. Our bags were laying open in our living room. I kept telling myself calmly, “This is how Hashem wants it… If he wants you to make the flight, it’ll happen... (looking at my watch - two hours until take off) and if not then that’s what God wants and that’s it.”
The calm faith that I merited to have in that extreme situation allowed me to think clearly and radiate that inner trust in Hashem to my wife. As she walked in the door, she saw I wasn’t angry (due to the Emuna) and this allowed her to think more clearly. We quickly packed whatever we remembered and made our way to the airport. I called my Dad...
“We are on the way, I’ll call you back if and when we get through security.”
We raced our car to the airport. The teachings in the book The Garden of Wisdom shows the thought processes between a person with Emuna and one who believes only in himself arrogantly. The reader can see where their weak points are in Emuna by examining both characters. Wrong thought processes such as, “You idiot, How come you didn’t check the ticket properly, what a stupid mistake you both made, it’s all your fault, what if you don’t make it.” All of these very strong and negative thoughts pounced on me, but I was able to deflect them because I had the path of the simple one before me. The way of the simple one is to avoid self-persecution and trust that Hashem is running the entire show for the very best.
We arrived at the airport one hour before boarding. Thankfully, they waved us to the beginning of the line to check our bags since we were with a baby stroller. We had our bags checked and proceeded to security where we were held up for not having Israeli passports for our kids. Another delay!!!! This time we had no idea whether or not we’d make the flight. Suddenly I remembered that Rabbi Shalom Arush teaches to say “thank you” continuously without requesting anything from Hashem when in such a situation. I started doing this while the security officer took our tickets and did background checks on us. 15 minutes passed when we finally got permission to run to the terminal gate! The moment we arrived, the crew started welcoming passengers aboard.
This is a true story about Emuna Living. If I could step up to this challenge, I know you can to. By continuously trying to live the Emuna in my heart, I merited Divine Protection and this has made all the difference.
The next time something isn’t working for you, stop and apply the principal of that’s what Hashem wants even though I don’t understand. Study your favorite Emuna book and seek answers to your dilemma.