SECRETS of the FOOD INDUSTRY

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HITCHHIKE ON THE TURNPIKE

By: Ellen Gellar Kamaras



During the summer months, about 25 community men depend on the 7AM Torah bus for transportation. They make the long commute from Deal into the city, faithfully believing that as they learn the wheels will turn, depositing them to their offices on time. Nine times out of ten, this has been the case, with the men sharing an enjoyable two hours of learning under Rabbi Ralph Gindi before beginning their workdays. But one morning in mid-July, all of that changes. Approximately four miles before the Lincoln Tunnel, the Torah bus begins to fail.

“No one was paying attention,”says commuter Jason Sultan.  “Everyone was learning with Rabbi Gindi.” Can you picture it? The men immersed in their studies, oblivious to their surroundings? Indeed, the men are completely unaware that they will soon be in danger – they simply trust that the bus driver is up front, putting in the miles. Except he can’t. Not today. The bus is having problems and the driver is helpless in the face of them.

Unable to accelerate, the bus is moving slower and slower. Soon, it will disrupt the flow of traffic. The driver merges into the bus lane and calls the bus company to no avail. Now, the situation is getting grave, with the bus blocking traffic, as other buses pile up behind it. The bus driver gets out to push the bus himself – precious minutes lost. Finally, he manages to pull over onto the shoulder, so that other buses can pass. It is there that the bus dies completely.

Now the men are up to speed, looking up from their books and beginning to panic. What of their important meetings? What of the day they’d planned so precisely? As the men begin to fan themselves and mutter words of despair, Jason Sultan comes through with encouraging words. “Don’t worry,” he assures his fellow travelers.We’re all wearing kippas. We’ll get off the bus and a Syrian fellow will stop and pick us up in a minute. Not even. Watch.”

Sure enough, the men have no sooner stepped off the bus than a community member pulls up next to them. “Let’s go, guys! Hurry up, hurry up,”Paul Sutton says cheerfully, seeming instinctually to know what happened. Without giving it a second thought,Jack Schweky, Lawrence Dayan, Jason Sultan and his nephew Alan Greenstein get into Paul’s car. The five of them travel in safety the rest of the way to Manhattan.

As for the rest of the men? They have not even a minute to wait before an Ashkenazi Monsey Tour bus picks them up. They, too, are rescued in no time.

We could view this incident as a charitable display of kindness at the hands of good Samaritans. We could say, from a Jewish perspective, that this is second nature – Jews being responsible for one another. But the men on the bus that day – the men who, when their bus broke down had no idea where their salvation would come from, choose to see this incident as Yad Hashem in action.

“That is Gd watching over all of us,” Mr. Schweky with certainty. “Everybody was safe - it was unbelievable! It was amazing hashgaha peratit.

Though Mr. Schweky and the rest of the men began their morning learning from inside holy texts, they learned something just as important outside of them – that Jews in trouble don’t stay in trouble for long, because Hashem is always with them. “Everything is from Gd,” says Mr. Schweky. “If you see it, you understand it. It all comes from Gd.”

Just the night before, the men had studied the morning beracha of  HaMeichin Mitzadei Gaver together. Literally, the beracha blesses Hashem for firming man’s footsteps. The men were privileged to witness that firsthand. When they were uncertain, unsure of how they could or would go forward, Hashem “firmed their footsteps,” and planned for their rescue.

And what a plan it was! Paul Sutton usually leaves his house earlier – but that morning his daughter delayed him so long that he left without her. Paul usually has a full car – but that morning he was alone. And he usually takes a direct route – but that morning he got lost, so that a couple of wrong turns led him right to where the Torah bus was stalled.

We learn that if our eyes stay attuned to Hashem’s miracles, He will continue to show them to us. Kudos to the men of the Torah bus for interpreting the situation thus and then sharing this story with all of us.