Shlomo Hamelech wrote in his great wisdom in Koheles 11:1
"Cast your bread upon the water for after many days you will find it"Rashi explains that you should do chesed and favors even for a person who you think you'll never see again. It may seem that you will not receive anything in return as if you "sent your bread upon the water". However, eventually you will get your reward. Rashi cites the story of Yisro who gave a meal to Moshe. Yisro thought of Moshe as an Egyptian whom he would never see again. But look at what happened at the end. Moshe became his son-in-law, brought Yisro under the Wings of Hashem", and Yisro's descendants later served in the Sanhedrin.
Hashem runs the world so that someone to whom you did a favor many years ago, can later turn out to be the one who does you a favor. A recent experience made me realize that if we keep our eyes and ears open, we can see many such examples.
The stories I'm about to tell you are true. I may have changed some of the names to protect the innocent (remember Dragnet?).
Since I have the sichot posted on the Neveh website, Boruch Hashem, occasionally I get some e-mail from different people. Recently, I received a correspondence from a girl named Nancy Fulgum, who asked me a certain question. In my response I wrote a short paragraph about my bout of nostalgia that her name touched off. It seems that over 30 years ago I was in a hospital in Manhattan for surgery. My roommate's name was Jackie Fulgum. I remembered that his brother came to the hospital on Purim to read the Megillah for Jackie and me. I was wondering if she was related to them.
She responded that Jackie was her uncle and that his only brother, Michael was her father.
Then the posuk of Shlomo Hamelech hit me, "Send your bread upon the water....." Michael Fulgum, her father, had done me a favor of reading the Megillah for me on Purim over 30 years ago. He never expected anything from me in return. Hashem had other plans. 30 years later I was able to help his daughter, a little, by having my sichot on the Neveh website, where she picked them up.
The next story took place in the summer of '98. There was a student in Neveh who was very close to me. He attended '97-'99. In the summer of '98, I was in the U.S.A. for some weddings. Naturally, I attended the Neveh dinner. This student's parents attended as well, and I looked forward to greeting them. When I saw his father, a light bulb went off in my brain. I know that face, but from where? After ascertaining that I didn't know him from the yeshivas I attended, I drew a dead end.
A few hours later, when I was trying to fall asleep, it hit me. Over 25 years ago I was learning in the Mir Yeshivah in Brooklyn. Many Shabbosim I would stay in Yeshivah. I would appreciate any invitation to eat out in somebody's house as opposed to eating in the Yeshivah. (Now, don't get me wrong, the food was pretty good but still a family setting has its special ruach-spirit. My experiences then have helped me sympathize with the Neveh guys and try to invite them out.) Well, this fellow's father used to daven in the Mir Yeshivah. One Shabbos he invited me out for a meal. I even remembered that he lived right across the street from the Mir Yeshivah. The next day I excitedly called my student to find out if his parents lived across the street from the Mir Yeshivah 25 years ago (before this student was born). When he replied in the affirmative, I knew that I had hit the nail on the head. I told him that I had solved the mystery of "The Familiar Face", and I explained to him where I knew his father from.
Then, Shlomo Hamelech's posuk came to mind, "Cast your bread upon the water...". 25 years ago, his father thought that he was literally "sending his bread upon the water" by feeding this poor Mir Yeshivah kid whom he would never be associated with in the future. Again the wheels of Hashgocho Perotis-Divine Supervision turned and helped me to reciprocate. 25 years later, I was able to invite his son for more than one meal and I even invited him into my family and into my heart.
The next story was told to me by my wife. Her mother, o’h was a very big baalas chesed- charitable person in Detroit, Michigan over 40 years ago. She would deal a lot with refugees who came after WWII. She would speak to them, give advice, and money and clothing when she could. She did these things without expecting any remuneration.
One family she helped, had a son who studied and excelled. He eventually became a highly esteemed Rabbi and moved to Israel.
When my wife's mother passed away a few years ago, it was this esteemed Rabbi who could truthfully eulogize her by telling all the chesed that she personally did for him and his family. He ended off with the posuk that we say in Eishes Chayil, the chapter from Shlomo Hamelech's Mishlei- Proverbs 31:26, that we say every Friday night, "She opened her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue." Eventually this posuk was written on her matzevah-tombstone.
I'm going to end up with a letter I received last year, in which a reader shared with me a personal story of amazing Hashgocho Perotis- Divine Supervision:
Tuesday Sept. 8, 98Till here is the fellow's letter. I just wanted to add one postcript. I responded to this fellow with a letter saying that I was highly insulted that he interrupted reading my sicha just to take care of a fire. All kidding aside, I thanked him for sharing this fiery episode with me.
Shalom Aleichem, Rabbi Price
I'm a close friend of.........who arrived at Neveh this morning, though I have children, B.H., older than him.
I have Web access here at work, and I downloaded some of your articles before Shabbos, so I could give.........a taste of what he's getting himself into. I shared the following episode with.......on the way to Kennedy Airport.
I never get up at 5:00 A.M. Shabbos morning, and I mean NEVER.
On Friday nights, I usually fall asleep right after bentsching (or before) for an hour or two, get up and try to finish the sedrah for another hour or two, and then go back to sleep till Shacharis.
Well, this past Shabbos I got up at 5:00 A.M.-went downstairs to the kitchen, made a coffee as I was milchigs (dairy) and started reading your "Hashgocho Perotis vs. Coincidence " Sicha. Halfway through, a ball of flame erupted from the stove area.
We cook the 'cholent' in a three-legged crock pot which gets quite hot to the touch. We cover part of it with towels for added warmth. One of the legs broke a while ago, and my wife uses an upturned bowl in its place to steady the pot. In her haste before Shabbos, a section of wire got wedged between the pot and the bowl, melting the insulation. (Author's note-That's the way we men are, always blaming the wife.)
B.H., I was able to get the towels out of the way before.....
We later had what to talk about at the table and didn't mind the lukewarm cholent one bit.
Hmm! Interesting 'coincidence' while reading about coincidence.
May Hashem help us to learn from these stories that He indeed exists and runs the world. We must also learn to have patience in expecting remuneration for our deeds.
May we also keep our eyes and ears open and find our own stories to give us chizuk - strengthening and to give it over to others. You are invited to send me any similar stories or stories that show Hashgocho Perotis-Divine Supervision (especially since Chanukah which is approaching is a special time to reflect on Hasgocho Perotis, see "Hasgocho Perotis vs. Coincidence" sicha). You can e-mail them to Price@neveh.org. Or fax it to Neveh at 02 5341439 (from U.S.A. it's 01197225341439). Just write Att. Shlomo Price.
I want to close with an appreciation to anyone who takes the time to read the sichot that I have posted. A special thanks to those who even go further and write me their comments and questions. You can't imagine how much chizuk it gives me.(Of course if anyone wants to write me constructive criticism, I'd appreciate that too). I also apologize to those whom I have not gotten around to responding to.
Thank you very much.
List of Rabbi Price's sichot
Back to Neveh Homepage