I would like to share a beautiful story sent to me by my third grade Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch Lederman of San Diego, California. I strongly suggest you sign up for his inspiring weekly “ShulWeek” newsletter by clicking here!
Hashem orchestrates the world and takes care of us in amazing unexpected ways, as the following true story illustrates:
Mendel Goodman (names of all people and cities have been changed) was a businessman in Longwell, Michigan. His 20-year-old daughter Sheindel helped out in the business.
One Friday morning, one of Mendel’s clients said to him, “Mendel, your daughter is a gem. Take my advice, there is a young man I met last week named Yossi Rosenberg from Canada. He learns in Yeshiva Yagdil Torah. He has ‘alla maalos’ – every good quality you could ask for in a husband and son-in-law. He is pious, diligent, refined, smart, kind, talented and good looking to boot.”
Mendel replied, “Thank you for thinking of us. I know our Sheindel is really special. I want a boy who is worthy of her. Right now we have plenty of offers and we are weighing our options very meticulously.”
“But Mendel, you have to go after this. You can’t just pass up on a boy like Yossi.”
“Perhaps we will get around to this boy of yours eventually,” said Mendel as he grabbed his hat and hurried out of his office. Mendel always left work early on Fridays in order to give himself time to prepare properly for Shabbos.
He arrived home and got about his Shabbos preparations. Suddenly he heard a loud groan from the kitchen. There he saw his wife on the floor. She felt a sharp pain in her side. It was so intense; that she put down the bowl she was holding and keeled over. She was now writhing in agony. Mendel called the ambulance and had her rushed to the hospital.
She was examined and the doctors told them that it was a kidney stone. Although a kidney stone is extremely painful, it is generally not fatal, so all in all it was a relief. The doctors said that Mrs. Goodman would need to stay in the hospital for observation. Yaakov decided to stay by his wife’s side over Shabbos but there was no way to get food for Shabbos.
Just then, he saw a young Jewish man clad in Yarmulke and tzitzis approaching. “I heard from one of the nurses that you are going to be stuck here for Shabbos. Here take this. It should tide you over.”
Mendel looked in the bag and it contained a number of grocery items including grape juice and some Challah rolls. To Mendel, who was starving by now, it was a feast. Before he could say anything, the young man politely excused himself, wished Mendel a Good Shabbos and a Refuah Shelaimah for his wife, and was off (after all, he too needed to get home for Shabbos).
Later, Mendel made Kiddush for his wife and told her of their mysterious benefactor. Since Mendel had plenty of time on his hands – he wasn’t going anywhere all Shabbos – he asked around the hospital to see if anyone knew who that young man was. He wanted to pay him back for all the groceries or at least thank him. Mendel found out who the Jewish patients were and described the young man. Maybe he had been visiting a friend or relative in the hospital.
“I know whom you’re talking about,” said one of the nurses, who overheard Mendel’s questions, “That young man is a saint. He stops in here every Friday afternoon and visits with whoever happens to be here. He doesn’t have any friends or family here, he’s not even from around these parts. He once told me he was studying in some Jewish school in town, but he comes from somewhere like Canada.”
Mendel’s ears perked up. This was the second time that day he heard the word Canada. “What’s his name?”
“I believe his last name starts with an R and his first name is some Hebrew name. I think it’s Yuppie or something like that.”
Mendel ran straight for his wife’s room. He blurted out excitedly, “I know why we’re here! It’s because of Sheindel”
His wife was taken aback. She had never seen her husband so worked up, “Sheindel had nothing to do with it. I have a kidney stone. Mendel, what’s the matter with you.”
Mendel excitedly told her everything that had transpired that day, including his conversation of that morning. “This is the boy for our Sheindel! I know it.”
As soon as Shabbos was over and his wife was released from the hospital, Mendel wasted no time seeking out Yossi. He went to Yagdil Torah and observed the young man,
davening and learning Torah in the beis midrash (study hall). Mendel was even more impressed now, after seeing his obvious sincerity and piety.
Normally, Mendel would take a long time checking a boy out, before approving him for his beloved daughter, but here Mendel knew all that he needed to know. He made haste in arranging a date for Yossi and Sheindel.
The next week, Yossi was standing at their door. As soon as Sheindel laid eyes on Yossi, she knew he was the one. He was a beautiful person – inside and out – and Sheindel could sense his purity and his adelkeit (gentleness).
The Goodmans sat in the parlor with Yossi. Mrs. Goodman began, “Tell me Yossi, are you related to the Rosenbergs in Toronto? I’ve heard so many delightful things about that wonderful family.”
Yossi responded, “My name isn’t Rosenberg, it’s Rosenfeld; and I’m from Montreal. My parents, Herschel and Esther Rosenfeld, run a family business there.”
Mendel’s jaw dropped upon hearing the name Herschel Rosenfeld. He never wanted to hear that name again. After his dealings with him, he knew Herschel Rosenfeld all too well. There was no way any daughter of his would marry into the family of that despicable man.
Mendel excused himself and asked his wife to join him in the next room. “You heard what he said. His father is Hershel Rosenfeld from Montreal.”
“Yes Mendel, I know all about you and Herschel Rosenfeld.”
“Then you know I can’t let this happen.”
“Don’t make a scene now. Let them go out. Maybe she won’t even like him and this whole thing won’t even be an issue,” said Mrs. Goodman.
Sheindel came back from the date with stars in her eyes. She never had such a great time, nor did she ever like a boy so much. Yossi was everything she could ever want or hope for. She felt alive with him. She couldn’t wait to tell her parents all about it.
“You may not see that boy again,” said Mendel abrubtly.
“You cannot continue to go out with him.”
“You don’t know what kind of a man Herschel Rosenfeld is. There is nothing to talk about. We are calling it off and that’s it.”
Sheindel couldn’t understand what she was hearing. It was as if she had just gotten the wind knocked out of her. She ran to her room in tears.
When Yossi heard the news, he too was thunderstruck. He really liked Sheindel. She was kind, virtuous, fun to be with. He had never met anyone like her. When he was with her, he felt like the person he wanted to be. They were so compatible, they hit is off so well, he knew she felt the same way.
Plus he felt wronged. Mr. Goodman knew who his father was before they left the house. If it was such a terrible problem, he could have stopped the shidduch before it started. For Mr. Goodman to stop a successful shidduch at this point was just wrong – especially when the whole reason was some silly grudge.
When Yossi’s Rosh Yeshivah heard about this, he called Mendel, assuring him that Yossi was the finest young man he could ever desire, and that any issue between Mendel and Herschel had nothing to do with Yossi. It was to no avail. Mendel would not budge.
Yossi was pining away. Sheindel stole his heart. An older married friend of his, Shalom, who learned in the kollel, said to him, “I know you are upset at the father and you see the girl as an innocent victim, but if she is the type of woman who cannot stand up to her parents, then that is a sign of the future. Throughout your married life, she would cave in to her parents every time there is a conflict and trust me, you would be miserable. If this is what she is, you are better off without her.”
As painful as it was, Yossi understood the truth of Shalom’s words.
Meanwhile Sheindel was also pining away. The man of her dreams had just been ripped away from her. Her once bright eyes were sad, pathetic and forlorn. It was heartbreaking to look at her like this, but her father would not waver. Sheindel was always an obedient daughter who did all she could to bring nachas to her parents.
Suddenly it hit her like an inspiration. She thought to herself, “Im ain ani li mi li? If I am not for myself who will be for me?”
She told her parents politely but firmly, “I am going to tell the shadchan to set up another date for me with Yossi, if he will still have me. I hope you consent to this; but if you do not, I am fully prepared to face whatever I need to face.”
The second date was even better than the first. The more they went out, the happier they became and the darker Mendel became. His wife saw how this was eating him up alive.
Finally, she sat him down and the two of them had a heart to heart talk about everything. After much discussion and soul searching, Mendel came to the realization that his objections were opinion not fact. The problems were his own, not Yossi’s and certainly shouldn’t become Sheindel’s.
As Mendel recently recalled, “It makes me shudder to think that I was ready to let my personal subjective feelings ruin my daughter’s life. Not to mention our entire family’s happiness – we absolutely adore our son-in-law Yossi.”