David, a happy young professional black man is driving down the highway on his way home from an exciting and fulfilling extended weekend up North. He’s talking on his cell phone to his mom. It’s Monday evening of last week, May 10th, the day after Mother’s day. Because he was so busy yesterday he had forgotten to call.
he reaches the intersection of Route 70, a police roadblock is directing traffic in a different direction. His GPS is now recalculating his route and directing him to take a small country road. A large truck is in front of him and a similar one behind. As the convoy reaches the outskirts of a small town David sees an immense fire shooting up some 25 feet in the air. At the other end of the town, 150 to 200 angry men with battle flags and masked and hooded faces are yelling and jumping around behind the fire.
His mom hears the yelling and asks him what’s going on. Not to alarm her he tells her it’s nothing, just some kids having fun. David is scared to death. The truck in front is waved past the bonfire by the mob. Then it’s David turn to drive through. But the truck in front suddenly breaks and stops a couple of feet ahead. The mob sees David’s black face and start banging on the car and hitting it with baseball bats. Someone throws a large rock through the rear window. Glass shatters. The mob moves in to grab David from the car, lynch him and burn him in the bonfire. David, his adrenaline pumping into his blood stream and nervous system, is calm. Thinking very strategically, he drives his car into the truck in front causing it to move up a few feet; puts his car in reverse; and slams down on the gas pedal. The car spurts backwards a few feet into the crowd, which now scatters to avoid being hit as David shifts into drive; weaves behind the truck in front and drives off into a field on his right. The mob, angrier than before, starts running after him. He’s driving down a dirt path in the middle of the field and it’s now 10:30 pm. He tells his mother something came up and he’ll call later. After driving a mile or so the road ends and he comes to a brick wall. He has less than a quarter of a tank of gas.
Sounds like a movie you’ve seen? It’s no movie. And David or Dovid isn’t black and he’s on the road driving to Jerusalem. And the mob is a mob of Arabs waving Palestinian flags and thirsting for the blood of Jews.
Our former Center student, Dovid Uhlmann, a native Chicagoan and Israeli citizen was here to daven at the graves of our holy ancestors and great rabbis and to visit friends and his alma mater, Ohr Somayach. The last grave he visited was that of Yonason ben Uziel in Amuka, where he recited the whole book of Tehilim. He almost joined his ancestors in his own grave, but Hashem had other plans.
There are some facts you need to know about Dovid before we go on. He made aliyah in 2015 to join the IDF as a combat soldier. Making the decision to simultaneously keep mitzvohs, he joined the Haredi unit of Givati – one of the elite combat units in the IDF. He also had graduated from IDC an internationally renowned college in Herzliya with a master’s degree in in Government; a specialty in Counterterrorism; Homeland Security; Counter Cyber terrorism; and a cluster certificate in Cyber Security. Hashem had prepared him, as much as is possible, for this moment.
The truck that had been behind him at the roadblock had followed him down the dirt road in the field. Dovid had no idea if he was a friend or enemy. The truck drove up next to him and the driver said in perfect Hebrew to follow him to safety. Dovid called the police to report the incident and his predicament. The police were cordial but since he wasn’t injured or in immediate danger they told him that they were quite busy and wished him good luck and they added, under no circumstances follow the truck.
Not seeing any alternative, Dovid disregarded their advice and started following the truck with his lights off. After a few minutes of driving Hashem opened his eyes to a road that he had failed to see before, leading in the opposite direction to the village. He took it to safety and was able to tell the tale and celebrate his Divine salvation.
On Thursday evening Dovid made a siyum on the Gemara Makkos and spoke at an all-program festive mishmar at the Yeshiva. Recounting his ordeal, he ended his speech with the following message. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the world – you can be in Jerusalem; South Africa; South America; or the USA. Bad things can happen anywhere. You can even be in the middle of Arab mob. If Hashem doesn’t give permission for something to happen, nobody can touch you.”