A Test of Trust
Our true level of emuna is revealed only in "crunch time" - will we pass the test?
Posted on 23.06.19
A person with emuna (faith in Hashem) knows that everything is from Hashem, and that everything has a purpose. Bitachon (trust) is the active manifestation of emuna that enables the person to feel the confidence that Hashem is certainly going to take care of me no matter what happens, and then form an appropriate response. It has been my experience that a person may have great stores of emuna, yet lack complete trust in Hashem. This story is one such example.
I had just spent 12 wonderful days visiting my elderly father and younger sister in Orange County, CA. Now she and I were en-route to LAX for my flight back to Israel. We were speeding along in the car pool lane when suddenly there was a loud pop sound coming from the left rear tire. Southern California freeways being what they are (six to eight lanes wide; no shoulders to pull off to) made maneuvering the car off the freeway a scary procedure. In his great kindness, Hashem arranged for our emergency exit to take place at the only patch of dirt I had seen for miles.
Shaken but keeping her wits about her, my sister called the AAA club to send assistance. I looked at my wristwatch. It was 9:40am. My flight was at 12:50pm. Whew! Still plenty of time. As we waited, I said repeatedly, “everything is for the best. I trust you, Hashem.” Ten o’clock arrived. No sign of the AAA people. Just then, a tow truck pulled off into “our” dirt patch. It was a patrol officer from California’s highway safety unit. Using a jack he lifted up the back left wheel…only to discover that my sister’s Hybrid did not have a spare tire! What a discovery! My sister phoned the AAA to update them of this crucial fact. “We’ll be there in 20 minutes,” they told her.
Although I repeated my emuna mantras, my trust had started to waver. My sister suggested she arrange an Uber ride for me. I agreed. Two Uber drivers answered her summons but neither one realized she was calling from the freeway itself! Meanwhile the AAA tow truck arrived. “It will be easier to contact an Uber from the tire repair store,” the driver said. Therefore, we packed my stuff back into my sister’s car, watched the car being lifted onto the ramp, and climbed into the cab. The drive to the tire repair store seemed to take forever. We arrived there at 11:10am. My sister arranged an Uber. He arrived 10 minutes later and my sister and I said a rushed goodbye.
In looking back afterwards on this part of the story I question myself why I didn’t ask the tire repair people how long they’d take to get my sister’s car back on the road. Had I done so, I would have heard it would take only eight to ten minutes, and therefore would have chosen to remain with my sister.
Instead, I was in an Uber car with a driver in his late 70’s driving very slowly. It was all I could do to keep from pulling out my hair in frustration. Finally, at 12 noon, we arrived at the Thomas Bradley International terminal at LAX. I fumbled for change for a luggage trolley and rushed to the El Al counter. No one was in line. “Will my bags make the plane?” I asked. “Yes. And they will be among the first ones unloaded in Tel Aviv,” came the surprising answer.
With my passport, boarding pass and carryon in hand, I ran up the escalator to passport control. The wait was endless. Ditto at the security line. Finally, at 12:30 I was through and heading for the gate. The airport assigns El Al different gates at random; this time the gate was the farthest away from the TSA checkpoint that it could possibly be and still be in the airport.
My flight was due to liftoff in 20 minutes. I wondered if I would make it. I ran. I stopped for breath and ran some more. Then the gate came into view…along with the hundreds of El Al passengers loitering around! “What’s happening?” I asked, stunned. “Engine trouble,” someone answered. “They’re bringing a replacement plane.”
The Baal Shem Tov Hakadosh said we do not control the circumstances of our lives. These are Hashem’s Divine providence. “The only thing we control is our perception of whatever Hashem brings us,” he said.
In the end, my flight took off an hour and a half late. I could have remained with my sister, trusting in my experience that fixing a flat tire takes all of eight to ten minutes. She and I could have enjoyed the rest of our ride to the airport and had a proper farewell. Most importantly, I should have known that Hashem was definitely going to take care of me somehow, even though that seemed impossible, sparing myself a lot of emotional wear and tear. There was one good thing that came out of the flight delay: It gave me plenty of time to thank Hashem that I did make the plane in the end, and beg Hashem for more emuna in the future!
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