A SECOND CHANCE
by Roy Neuberger
I would like to bring you up to date on a few things.
First, I received quite a few inquiries concerning the lost cufflinks about which I wrote several weeks ago. Thank you for your concern. My wife found them!
Second, another lost item: a Jewish soul! I described in the column on December 28 how a young mother was dramatically rescued from her overturned car in the middle of the night in a torrential storm on a small road in Israel. This is actually our own grand-daughter, Tehilla, who lives with her family near Ashkelon. I stated that a young couple pulled her out, but I later found out that, in fact, three vehicles arrived and their occupants stopped to rescue her.
The first was driven by a young man from Bnai Brak. He himself was apparently off the derech (meaning that he had strayed off the path of Torah), but, actually, as we will see, he found the derech that night! The second was driven by a medic for Magen Dovid Adam, and the third was a van full of yeshiva boys from Sderot. They all stopped and – with great difficulty – got her out of the car, called police and ambulance. In short, they saved her life.
A few weeks ago, our family made a Seudas Hoda’ah in Yerushalayim. We invited all these brave rescuers. The only one able to attend was the first young man, whose name, appropriately, is “Chai.” He had one of those piled-up haircuts, with no yarmulka. Before the meal, we davened maariv. Chai came running after us and asked to borrow a yarmulka. When it came to bentching, he put a napkin on his head (until someone stuck a hat on him).
Chai felt like one of the family. The next day, he wrote to Tehilla: “I have finally found a mishpacha!” He is coming to them for Shabbos, and … this just in: Chai himself was in a serious accident last week! Miraculously, he survived.
I said above that Chai was “off the derech,” but in fact, on Route 3, he found the derech! And that is how it is: when we do acts of kindness we heal the entire world, including ourselves.
This week’s Torah Portion tells the story of the aigel, the smashing of the luchos and the carving of a second set. This, my friends, is the story of life. We are all weak and vulnerable. It is easy to veer off the derech. The pressures are enormous and the world is filled with danger.
When the Tablets are smashed, it could have been “all over.” But it wasn’t all over. “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Carve for yourself two stone Tablets like the first ones, and I shall inscribe on the Tablets the words that were on the first Tablets.” (Exodus 34:1)
This means that we now have to work! We have to carve out new Tablets, and that is not easy. But we will do it if we understand that our lives depend on it. And Hashem will write on those Tablets. He says to Moshe, “Be prepared in the morning…. Stand by Me.” (Exodus 34:2)
Morning is coming. If we stand by Hashem, we will see the Sunrise.
 “Derech” literally means “road”
 A “Seudas Hoda’ah” is a meal for the purpose of expressing thanks to G-d for a miracle.
 “Chai” means “life.”
 The evening prayer
 Blessing after the meal
 The Golden Calf
 The Two Tablets Hashem gave to Moses
Morning Star at daybreak
* * * *
Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2019 by Roy S. Neuberger