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A Jewish Spark Comes Home
by H. Ben Porat

I was born and raised in Germany, and at age 21 I converted to Judaism. After my marriage I became exposed to the teachings of Chassidut, which greatly inspired me in my service of G-d. One of the teachings that made a deep impression on me is to spread joy and to relate the miracles that happened to me. There is a connection between joy, which sweetens judgment and breaks boundaries, and miracles, and so I try to always be happy and to make others happy. Although it’s not my nature, I work on it because I know how important it is to me and my surroundings.

One of the first miracles that happened to me occurred right after I converted. I started working in Jerusalem as a counselor in an institution for children. One evening, I traveled by way of Bethlehem. I bought a drink at a kiosk and sat down on a bench to drink it. I finished it and got up to go and then heard a loud explosion that made everything shake. It turned out that a bomb had been detonated at a nearby gas station. The guard was killed. I was supposed to be there, I thought, but Hashem saved me once again.

Years later, I was at a Chassidic gathering in a hall. It was a very happy occasion, but my young son wasn’t at home at the time and I felt worried about him. I felt that he was in danger and wanted to help him. I wondered how I could help him and thought: only joy could help. I must be happy.

Although I felt ridiculous, I resolved to overcome any unpleasant feelings and be happy so that my son would be fine. I got up and danced in the women’s section and brought myself to an elevated state of joy.

When we went home, we found out that at the same time we had been dancing at the gathering, a double terrorist attack had taken place at Kikar Zion. My son was there with friends and had gone into a nearby store to wash his hands. The bomb went off and some of his friends were killed. Since his bag was there, he wanted to go and get it but the security forces did not allow him. Then the second bomb went off and he was saved once again! I saw how willing myself to be happy had helped save his life. Twice!

This same son was saved later on from another attack during the Lebanon war, six years ago. Katyushas were striking at the north and my son was working at a children’s institute in the Galil. We were abroad at the time. They evacuated the children to the south and the place was almost completely empty. That day, my son and a friend went to visit friends in the Galil in order to help them. Everyone had already left except for one person who did not want to leave his sheep. The boys went onto the porch of one of the houses to rest when suddenly they were woken up by a mighty explosion. A Katyusha landed on the roof and the entire house collapsed on them. The friend was injured and was covered in blood. My son miraculously sustained only superficial scratches. He crawled to the shelter and got help. They were all in shock. The friend eventually recovered.

Another miracle happened to me last winter. I hadn’t traveled abroad for many years, but I finally decided to make the trip since some of my children live there. Additionally, my mother and siblings had aged, and I wanted to maintain a connection with them. Last winter, on Chanukah, I went to see my sister, who was ill, and my mother who was 93 (both have since died). I first visited my sister and then I traveled to my mother who lived in a little village in northern Germany.

The flight started out okay but then it began to snow heavily. In Hamburg, where I landed, the trains were off-schedule. The first train somehow managed to get out, but the storm got stronger and when I reached the next city everything was closed and there was no transportation. The conductor told me: I’m sorry, ma’am, but there is no reason to get off the train since all the roads are closed and nothing is moving.

I couldn’t turn back because of the snow. I said to myself and to Hashem, I have to see my mother. She was an old woman and waiting for me. I just had to get to her! I had to return to Israel in two days. “G-d, if you brought me here, you have to get me out of here!’

Of course, I also prayed to be happy, because I knew that if anything could extricate me from this situation, it was happiness. I cheered myself up with positive thoughts and I was happy. I talked to the Rebbe, which is something I often do, in addition to writing letters. Although it wasn’t clear to me what I was going to do, I got off the train with my luggage and went to the train station. Everything was closed. A girl there said she was stuck for a few days already!

It was freezing and I had no means of transportation, nor were there available bathrooms. I went to see whether there were any buses and I saw a bus there. I asked where it was going and the driver named the little town where my mother lived! It was astounding how, of all possible places, he was going to that small, out-of-the-way place. We waited two hours for the next train and in the meantime I got on the bus with my suitcases and warmed up a bit. When the next train arrived, two people got off and we set out. Throughout this time, I strengthened myself with prayer and joy. I did not permit myself to succumb to anxious thoughts and I truly felt that the bus was traveling especially for me.  

I am deeply grateful to G-d for His gift of allowing me to spend time with my mother. That was the last time I ever got to see her.

 

 


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