DONALD TRUMP May yet turn out to be one of the best presidents ever for Jews
Lifetime “firsts” are always memorable. Riding your first looping roller coaster, going on your first job interview, seeing your child off to school for the first time, or marrying off your first child are just a few I can think of. Being pulled over by a police officer for the first time is certainly no exception. I know, because it happened to me. Luckily, this story contains a miraculous ending, which I am choosing to share right before Hanukah, a time when we say “Al Hanisim,” and thank Hashem for the miracles He wrought.
Several years ago, on the road one late afternoon, I made a right turn from East Fourteenth Street – a one-way street – onto one of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues, Avenue J. It was a right turn and a wrong move.
Did you know it is unlawful to make a right turn onto Avenue J from East Fourteenth Street? Now you do! In any case, next thing I knew, there were ominous red and blue lights flashing from behind me.
“Pull over to a hydrant,” a rough voice boomed from the police vehicle’s loudspeaker. My instincts suddenly whirred to life, insisting frantically, “They mean you!” I did as I was instructed and, after much fumbling around in the glove compartment for the required papers, presented my license and registration to the NYPD officer. The officer, cold and expressionless, sported a luxuriant mustache and was possibly the tallest man I had ever seen.
There was no way out. I got that ticket.
On a whim, I decided to dispute the moving violation in court. The “No Turns” sign was obscured and I felt the violation just did not measure up to texting behind the wheel or failing to wear a seatbelt. Besides, like I said, firsts make an impression and I could not come to terms with this new “first” in my life. I knew I had not much of a defense to present to the court, but then again, what did I have to lose by trying?
Nine months later, several weeks before Hanukah, I whizzed down the boulevard and pulled up to the DMV. In fact, I parked right in front of the brown building by a no-meter space, a miracle in itself. I waited impatiently to be invited into the courtroom, alternately reciting chapters of Tehillim and curiously glancing at the melting pot of savory and unsavory people all around me.
A door opened and a judge, whose garb and demeanor were straight out of a storybook, emerged. Holding his robe at the seams, he ushered all those disputing their violations into a small courtroom. He went through some courtroom procedures and then the prosecutors (the police officers who had issued tickets) entered. I recognized “my” policeman instantly. His face was cold as ice, just as I remembered it to be.
One by one, the defendants were called up to dispute their charges. “I was looking down at my GPS, and next thing I knew, I was given a ticket for texting,” asserted one.
Bang!went the gavel. “Guilty!”
“This officer claims he saw me talking on my phone from two blocks away,” pleaded another.
Bang!went the gavel. “Guilty!”
After a few more bangs of the judge’s gavel and roars of “Guilty!” I found myself increasingly regretful of my decision to be there that day, but before I could backtrack, I was summoned by the gray-haired judge who would rule in my case. In a monotone, Mr. Stiff, my police officer, recounted with uncanny precision the events of that
ill-fated afternoon nine months prior. My eyes widened with each detail he uttered.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Ma’am?” the judge drawled, obviously bored.
Nothing, I realized. Silence was my only recourse. I looked down and felt like I was being condemned for murder.
“Obviously, then” the judge continued, “the verdict is guilty.” He paused a moment to fill out a form of some sort, and then seemed to doubt his own statement. Unbelievably, he proceeded to absolve me from guilt saying, “Actually, there is something questionable about whether one can make right turns from a one-way street in this particular district.” He lunged for a manual approximately three inches thick and mumbled some legalese while leafing through the pages. As I stood there reveling in my good fortune, I offered up a heartfelt prayer to Hashem, the Ultimate Judge, for being with me.
“Not Guilty! Case Dismissed!” the
I broke out in a smile and gave a loud exhale. I practically skipped out of that courtroom as I heard the next defendant being summoned for his case.
To me, the judge’s change of heart was nothing less than a miracle.
This Hanukah, seize the opportunity to celebrate the miracles in your life – both large and small. The miracles around us are gifts given with love from Above, and there’s no better time than Hanukah to acknowledge them.