G-ds Loving Intervention
From Darkness to Light
(Blackout to Salvation)
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Today is the 11th anniversary of my mother’s passing and I felt compelled to share with you one of the most miraculous stories of my entire 65 years of life.
My husband and I left America on July 13, 2003 to move to Israel (G-ds Beloved Garden). We were in the process of settling into our new home in the Old City of Jerusalem when I received THE CALL: my mother had been taken to the hospital with unexplained symptoms. My sister told me tests were being done to ascertain the problem and she would get back with me. The thought never entered my mind that my mother would be leaving this world, as she was fairly healthy. However, very soon after the first call, came the second call that she had left this world.
I was in shock…my Beloved mother, never to be seen by me again! I was so far away, as she lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up. I wanted to be there right away. I wanted to sprout wings and fly to her side…see her, be with her, hold her hand and gaze into her beautiful face one last time. I felt a deep need arise to be in the company of my sisters and my daughters. I needed to act quickly get an airline ticket for crying out loud. I didn’t even know if it was ok to leave Israel having just been here for a month. I didn’t know the protocol and I was an emotioal mess. Our lift had just arrived 5 days before and there were boxes and furniture everywhere. The furniture had been shrink wrapped for protection, so we couldn’t even use it until we had the strength to tear through the yards of blue, tough, plastic, shrinky stuff. I felt like I was in a daze. I didn’t even know where the phone was hiding nor the El Al number. Anyway, with G-ds help, I did locate the phone and made the call. There were 2 seats left Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d) on the morning flight. I was so grateful!
The morning of my departure was fully scheduled as I was going to take my driving test for my driving license which had to be done before we could buy our new car. After the test I had to rush with form in hand to the car dealership to finish signing the papers. I didn’t sleep most of the night as you can imagine. I wasn’t very hungry in the morning. I was too filled with emotion to fill up on food. I was definitely dazed and not looking forward to my driving test in the state I was in. Well, I prayed a lot and was prepared to cry crocodile tears if the testing guy gave me any trouble. He was sweet and Hashem was looking after me. I passed the test, took the form to the dealership, signed the papers and I was on my way. I desperately wanted to be on that plane flying to JFK….one step closer to my family. I kept urging my husband to drive faster. I could only think that the sooner I got there, the sooner I would be where I needed to be….with my family. I was flying into JFK (New York)…arriving at 5p.m. with an early morning flight the next day at 7a.m. out of Newark ,New Jersey into Cincinnati, Ohio. I wasn’t even sure what my plans were once I arrived but I knew everything would work out. Since making Aliyah and living in G-ds Holy Land, I had learned and personally experienced His Divine Providence in amazing ways. I had been taking an extraordinary class on understanding the ways of Hashem and one of the teachings was that every situation is tailor made for me with love from Hashem for me to grow in a way I needed to grow. I began to understand that in a very real and deep way.
My husband had given me a $100 bill and I had a credit card. I had no phone card that I knew of and no cell phone. I was carrying with me the currency of Faith and that felt comforting. There was so much emotion in me, I felt like a balloon ready to pop. How do you make casual conversation with people on a plane when your heart is breaking? I felt if I began to talk about my mother, the possibility of a flood existed and I couldn’t be responsible for the lives of all those people around me, plus, I could get sued….I think. Anyway, I didn’t sleep much on the plane and I didn’t eat much either. I didn’t even devour the chocolate I brought. I had lost my taste. I was antsy. I just wanted to be there. I can’t remember watching a movie or anything…I think I was numb.
After what seemed like days of flying, we landed. I felt an excitement that I was approaching my destination even though I had a ways to go. Suddenly, the captain came on the intercom and announced that there was a blackout in New York and New Jersey. There was suspicion of terrorism…they weren’t sure. As a result, we would need to stay on the plane until we were released to go inside. Now I was regretting not eating breakfast at home or my food on the plane. We sat on the plane without food or water for three hours which seemed like three days. AT 8p.m., we deplaned and I entered the realm of madness. Customs wasn’t operational, so we quickly went to reclaim baggage. Imagine if you will, planes with 300 to 500 passengers, all wanting their baggage and there is no automated baggage system operational. In fact each plane was assigned two men whose job was to bring the bags manually out of the plane on two large pushcarts. Can you begin to see the madness and chaos! Now the scene gets even crazier and funnier as the two porters entered the room, hundreds of people descended on them like flies on raw meat. It was a crazy scene. My intuition told me to sit back and allow the crowds to dissipate and then check to see if any bags were left. The porters quickly vacated the scene to prevent themselves from being crushed by the throngs of people. I decided the smart thing for me to do was just take my Tehillim (Psalms) and pray to G-d. One side note. Right before I boarded the plane, the flight attendant picked up my carry-on bag and said that it was too heavy, so it would need to be checked. I thought that was weird but I couldn’t think straight, so I said nothing. This would soon become a very big challenge as that bag held my personal phone book with all my phone numbers in the world.
Porters continued to come with bags and people began to leave. 9p.m. rolled around then 9:30p.m. and still my bags had not showed up……that wicked little saying began to rear its ugly head. Every situation is tailor made for me to grow…well I didn’t want to grow…I just wanted my bags please Hashem. 10p.m. arrived and the porter announced that there were no more bags left on the plane. My eyeballs got big, and I felt my heart begin to race….my carry-on bag with all my phone numbers in the world. Oy Vey! This does not look good. But G-d had mercy on me because there was one other woman who had not gotten her bags and she was Israeli. She walked up to that porter and said, “GO BACK TO THAT PLANE AND CHECK IT ONE MORE TIME BECAUSE I WANT MY BAGS AND THEY MUST BE ON THE PLANE.” I meekly said, yeah and mine too. Baruch HaShem…Hodu HaShem. I love YOU Hashem. He brought out her bags and mine. I wanted to cry, actually, I did.
Now the drama really begins. I went out to the main terminal with bags in tow. There were thousands of people everywhere. The shops were mostly closed because they ran out of food and water a long time ago. The drinking fountains didn’t work but thank G-d the bathrooms did. I tried to stick my head under the sink to get water but my head wouldn’t fit, so I began slurping some water. It tasted sooo good. Now it was time to get down to decision-making. What was I to do about getting to Newark? My first priority was to call my sisters. I found a pay phone but I realized I didn’t have any money and they weren’t set up for credit cards. I started searching in my wallet for maybe a hidden phone card somewhere and sure enough, I found one. It had 10 minutes left on it, Baruch HaShem. I called my sisters and I had never talked so fast in my life. I said “I have no idea what will be, but I will be there at some point…it’s just a question of when and how.” They said, “we know you….you will be fine.” I said to myself, I am glad somebody knows me because the way I feel…exhausted and starving and somewhat fearful, I wasn’t sure who I was. But I kept saying Hashem is with me. He is really helping me every step of the way. I am divinely guided.
SO ok, now what? I decided to go outside the terminal and search for a taxi…..yes, I am the eternal optimist. I walked outside into the darkness of the night. There were thousands of people milling around. I guess they were also wondering what to do. It was virtually impossible to get to your car in the parking garage because the parking garage was cloaked in darkness…NO LIGHTS. I SPIED A TAXI DRIVER. He approached me…I am in awe…he saw me right away. “What can I do for you lady,” he asked. ” I need a taxi to Newark,” I said. “No problem, I can get you there.” “How much?” I asked. “$150.00” he says. “Whoa! Hold your horses I said…that is ridiculous…that’s a big rip-off.” ( It normally costs around $60.00). “Sorry lady that’s the rate…take it or leave it.” Well, I said to myself, I only have $100.00 and besides I do not like being ripped off especially under these circumstances. I had a little chat with G-d and my intuition became activated, as it often does when we bring G-d into the equation. I told G-d that I believed that You who created heaven and earth can do anything and could He please get me to Newark in a different way, so I could attend my mother’s funeral.
I put on my thinking cap and decided to make a phone call. I had 3 minutes left on my miracle phone card so I decided to call My Rabbi who lives in Flatbush which is not far from the airport. I was going to ask him if he could pick me up and take me to his home and then in the morning I would take a taxi at a reasonable rate to Newark or ask him to drive me. Wow, good thinking, I said to myself. I got to the pay phone……first one …..not working…second one….not working…third one…not working…none working. Oh my gosh! Weird! Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lady with a cell phone and she was talking on it—it’s working. WOW, maybe she will let me use it to make my call. Of course she said go right ahead. I dialed the number to my Rav and the phone stopped working. Weird she says, it worked for me. Now I knew something big was up. I just kept thinking, I am Divinely guided in all ways. G-d has a plan. He is in charge. I can trust HIM in all things. Ok, so I gave up on the idea of phoning my Rav. I suddenly saw a sign I hadn’t seen before. People were waiting in line for buses and hotel rooms. WOW I thought, maybe, by chance there could be something for me….who knows. Then I saw a guy with 2 cell phones, one in each hand. I asked him if his cell phone was working because I live in Israel and my mom died and I need to get to Newark because I have to catch a plane to get to her funeral. The guy looked at me sympathetically and said “of course use my phone.” I didn’t understand why I had blurted out all that information like some hysterical woman, which maybe I was. The fact is that wasn’t my normal behavior. I decided to try another friend in the area and dialed the number. The phone rang and then, the phone went dead. “That’s very weird,” he said. I felt there was something spiritually big going on but I was also longing for salvation. Then out of nowhere she appeared……a fair skinned, blue eyed blond angel……a young woman. ” I heard what you said to that guy about your mother and needing to get to Newark she said. I live in Newark. I am here to pick up my father but due to the blackout my father’s flight has been cancelled. I will take you where you need to go” she said. Am I dreaming I said to myself? Out of the thousands of people stuck in the airport, HaKadosh Borchu (The Holy One, Blessed be He) plucked me out and lifted me up on the wings of an angel because she was one. She took my hand and gently said, follow me and I will take care of you. She kept saying that and I believed her. She led me through the thousands of people and confidently walked through the dark garage right to her car. What a miracle! She took my bags, opened the trunk and lifted them in. She opened my car door and put the seat back for me. “Rest, she said. I can see that you are exhausted,” and so I did. I fell asleep in the caress of G-ds loving and caring ways.
After sleeping a bit, I was awakened by lights. Lights in Newark I thought..wow…lights. I need some food I thought. Suddenly I spied a 7/11. Oh, Thank Heaven for Seven Eleven I said. And I meant it. I got apples and juice and water and even a muffin. Now I could eat my chocolate too……because I felt restored. My faith was flowing. It was energizing me. She asked “where do you want to go from here…to the airport?” “No,” I said. “What I really need is a shower and a bed.” It was almost midnight and the blackout had been going on for most of the day but the eternal optimist in me believed that all things are possible with G-d. With all the adventures I had had that night, what was one more? So, we saw a nice hotel not far from the 7/11 and decided to give it a try. I went in and nonchalantly asked for a room. The guy started laughing and said, “lady there’s been a blackout here and its midnight. You are not going to find a room anywhere.” Now, I didn’t say it but I thought to myself….apparently this guy does not know that I am a daughter of the KING AND THE KING CAN DO ANYTHING. My driver the angel asked again…” what would you like to do?” I said, “let’s drive down the road a bit and see what we can find.” I was actually afraid to go to the airport at that point because I thought that if I fell asleep I would not get up for my flight and I would miss it and besides I was so exhausted. Suddenly, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Motel. It was called The Royal Motel. I am a bat Melech (a daughter of the King) I said to myself. This must be the place. I told her,” please stop here, this motel will do fine”. I proceeded to check in, if you could call it that and the woman told me it would be $39.00 a night or I could also rent it by the hour. Well that alone should give you an idea of the quality of the place but I didn’t care. I was so full of gratitude and joy…a bed I said and a shower.
Hodu Hashem ( Thank you G-d) I said and I meant it. Living in Israel has taught me to be grateful for every little thing Hashem provides and this was so big to me. My friend—now I called her friend—she was worried. She said she didn’t think this was such a good place for me. Can you imagine a perfect stranger being so kind and loving to me? Anyway, I said, “my dear, there is no reason to be concerned. G-d has worked so many miracles for me tonight….He will protect me, so you needn’t worry.” She carried my bags up the steps to my room. I didn’t know how to thank her. I could hardly speak because she had been G-ds chosen agent to care for me and had done it so beautifully. I offered her some money in gratitude for all she had done but she refused. “This is my gift to you.” We hugged and said good-bye. She just smiled at me with love and kindness oozing from her body. I turned to go into my room. I opened my door and fell on the bed and wept. Even the cigarette burns on the bedspread couldn’t stop my tears of gratitude. The next thing I did was to turn on the air conditioner…if you could call it that…it looked like it had survived the Second World War. It was kind of hanging from the window but Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d) it worked. Yeah G-d I said. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was dancing around the room…..a full size bed I said, “Yeah!” Next, a long, hot shower was in order. I went into the shower and lo and behold there was no shower head….just a metal nozzle squirting out an intense stream of water. Well, it’s not what I had in mind but it will do just fine because it was a shower after all. I smiled big and laughed out loud about the rooms at the Royal Motel. Afterwards, I dried off and got into the bed. With the deepest gratitude blanketing my soul and the bedtime Shema on my lips I feel into a deep, restful sleep.
I had asked the receptionist to give me a 5 a.m. wake up call. I had also asked G-d before I feel asleep to send me a 5 a.m. wake up call. SO at exactly 5a.m. before the motel call came, I awakened to greet the day. I wondered what miracles G-d had in store for me…not that we should expect any because just being alive is truly a miracle. Anyway, I ate my 7/11 muffin and apple and juice. I savored it all and then dressed….no shower today thanks, I said. I walked out my door, which I had failed to lock ( without realizing it of course) and I greeted lots of guests along my way to the receptionist’s office. “How did you sleep?” the kindly receptionist asked. ” Very well, Thank G-d” I said. She said, “your car to the airport will be here very soon.” I looked up and said, Hashem, you really know how to take care of me First class. I said that because every step of the way of this adventure G-ds kindness and love were ever present with me. I was giddy with joy. So I stepped outside to wait for my knight in shining armor, so to speak. Suddenly in the distance, I saw my chariot, my luxury vehicle, a 1960’s giant station wagon with fenders falling off elegantly covered in various shades of rust. The driver could barely get out of the car as he was a giant of about 6 feet 7 inches—a black Haitian. His smile was as big as the car. He said,, “little lady where would you like me to take you?” I said “sir, I would be thrilled if you could get me to the airport ASAP.” Then I said “sir, not to hurt your feelings but I really need to get to the airport and I am a little concerned if your car will make it.” He came over to me and slapped me on the back and said, “honey, this car has more life in it than most people.” With that remark, I cracked up laughing and we breezed on our way. I got to the airport in plenty of time and breathed a sigh of relief once I had my boarding pass.
I went to the gate to await my actual flight because in truth, with all that G-d had done for me, I was FLYING HIGH on wings of love and gratitude. I decided to find a quiet corner to review one of the greatest adventures of my life. I reviewed all the processes that had occurred in order for me to be at the right place at the right time in order for me to receive G-ds gift…my miracle. The most remarkable aspect of the entire episode was that my carry-on bag was put on last as I was boarding the plane and yet, my two bags were the last ones off the plane and they were somehow together. That is not logical and does not make sense. Thus, we begin to understand that G-d runs the world and does miraculous things constantly for our benefit. At each blockage whether the missing bags, the phones or the taxi, G-ds plan for me and my salvation was being put into place. I just needed the faith to believe in it. Yes, each situation was tailor made for me to see if the closed doors would stop me or if I would keep searching for G-d to open another one. It was exhilarating in the end to get to where I needed to go all BY THE GRACE OF G-D. I will never forget that night/day as long as I live. I believe the merits of my very special mother played a part in that story for she trusted in the fullest in His miraculous, loving ways.
Please drink a l’Chaim or say a D’var Torah, or recite a chapter of Psalm, or do a good deed, that its merit should enable the soul of my beloved mother Helene bat Mary to have an Aliyah in Heaven. Remember G-d loves you more than you can imagine and He cares for you all the time. Make time to thank and praise Him and live with joy, love and passion and a sense of humor…HE sure does.
With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha