by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths
Last year motzie Shabbos parshat Mishpatim (Saturday night) there was a serious snowstorm here in Israel. I was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night to a very dark coldness. It was snowing and the electricity was out, but it wasn't that kind of darkness or that kind of cold. I normally go to bed early and it is not uncommon for me to awaken in the wee hours, and I generally use this time to pray and to speak with Hashem.
This night was different. I woke and washed my hands and felt there was a presence in my room. Straight away I heard, "It's time!" What? "It's time prepare yourself!" What? "I have come to take you, it's time!"
The voice was very real and I began to tremble.
Everyone was asleep except for myself and our little dog, who was sitting next to my bed nervously looking in the direction of the darkness in the corner of the room. The voice said again, "Prepare yourself, go and kiss your children and ask them to forgive you, it's time." So I got up, dressed and let the dog out, came back up stairs and started to cry and shake as the reality of this hit me.
On Shabbos I lost my temper. It was bad, really bad, though I can't even remember why now. But I remember it was a real blow out.
I walked to my son's room, the first I came to. There I cried and asked them to forgive me. I cried and hugged them, they stirred but didn't wake. Next into the little ones room, my babies. The same, I cried and thought of how I'd been a bad father, an angry, yelling, raving fool. I almost collapsed on the floor - I was by now really shaking. I kissed them both. Now I went into my eldest's room - she was now a beautiful young woman, I probably caused her the most pain. My tears dripped on her she rolled over I begged her to forgive me. I kissed her on the cheek and turned and went out. Now my room, I stood in the darkness and shuddered when when I saw him in the corner waiting for me to finish. I stepped up next to my wife's bed and fell apart I cried and cried and pleaded for her most of all to forgive me, how much she has had to endure, oy!
I returned to my bed and was told to "Say the Shema (the primary prayer of Jewish faith) let's go!"
"No, just wait a minute, I do not want to go. I have children that need me. My poor wife, what is she going to do?" I began to argue for my life! I was pressed to say shema. I argued "What? I have no good at all? There is no chance for me to repair what I damaged?"
"No! Say shema!" I was really crying now, my whole body shook! I knew I was going to leave this world any second now, I could feel it. "But wait, I have no schut (merit) at all? I did not do teshuvah? Didn't give up everything I was doing in my life to become Torah observant? I left the life I had and gave up all to serve Hashem! I moved to Israel to be close to Hashem! Have not earned any merit at all? Like Avraham avinu I left my homeland to come here to serve Hashem. My only thought was to serve G-d. Ok, I have no merit. What about our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Dovid the Baal Shem Tov...ah Rebbe Nachman! Rebbe, you said if I came to your grave and gave tzedakah (charity) and said the Tikun (tikun klali) that you would traverse heaven and earth and even come to gehenom to help me. You promised!"
I noticed the clock glowing in the darkness, 2:44 AM (battery backup). I heard a voice as I saw the clock "He is the talmid of Rav Shalom Arush ben Yamnah from Jerusalem."
I pleaded for one more Shabbos so I could really keep it, and if one more Shabbos then maybe one Purim so I could have a real Purim in Jerusalem with my Rav. And if Purim then please, please let me have Pesach (Passover), and I want to count the Omer and make it through all the way without messing it up. Please give me Shavuos with the yeshiva, and give me one more Rosh Hashanna in Uman with the Rebbe! Please please let me sit in my Rav's Sukkah. Please give me Sholesh Regolim (the 3 pilgrim festivals) in Jerusalem.
By now, it had hit me like a ton of bricks. I was sobbing and soaked from crying. My whole body hurt from crying! I was yelling and pleading yet no one woke up - only me in the darkness and my little dog sitting looking at me like 'what's this guy's problem?' but with understanding eyes like what's wrong? She didn't budge the whole time, just sat there and looked at me and glanced for time to time at the darkness in the corner.
4:18 AM. By this time I was exhausted and decided to just trust in Hashem - if it's my time then what shall be will be.
"Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokaynu, Hashem Echodddddddd......"
When I woke up in the morning I was very surprised to find myself in my room. Everyone was still asleep, no one was going any where because of the snow.
I arose, washed my hands. It was 7 AM. I prayed, I mean prayed and thanked Hashem that I was still here. I looked out the windows it was still snowing, not like last night when there was lighting and thunder and the wind howling. Now peaceful heavy snow falling. The sun broke through here and there, it was wonderful.
A cup of coffee, yum it tasted great. Everything
was new, I mean good!
I even kissed the dog and hugged her, she was the only one to witness all this. She look relieved to see me. I never liked having the dog in the house, there's real issues of spiritual purity with pets, but living in the West Bank and on the edge of the village, she was our alarm if Hashem forbid Arabs came up the hill, she would give me the time I needed to prepare to defend my family, so I gave in to her living with us. But now I felt a special bond as we had this shared experience.
When the family got up it was wow, lets play in the snow! My wife was still angry over my explosion so I left to a friend up on the hill to see the snow. The day passed and the next, there are no snow plows in Israel (where it snows maybe once in 5 years). We stayed home for two days waiting for the weather to turn and the roads to clear.
Tuesday morning I drove the children to school in Jerusalem, and myself to yeshiva. On the way we were almost killed as a Arab semi-trailer fuel truck lost control right in front of us going into a curve. In a story I shared previously here on Mystical Paths, we watched the truck spin out, hit several other vehicles in front of us, literally fly over us with 2 or 3 inches to spare and hit more cars behind us.
It was like a movie slow motion effect, stuck in the middle of this high speed disaster, my son yelled "look out!" as a tire from one of the vehicles hit flew just skimming over our heads missing the roof of the car right in front of my head and the tail end of the truck just missed the door 3 inches from my face... but this was a side story...
As I entered the yeshiva, timidly after all these events, I walked to the downstairs beis medrash to daven passing by the Rav's office - the door was open. The way the office is set up you can't see the Rav at his desk, it's out of sight. As I passed I heard "Nathanael". I literally back stepped to the door and stuck my head in the door and said "yes Rav, you called me?" "Come in and shut the door."
He asked me, "Do you understand what happened to you on Motzei Shabbos?" I dropped my Tallis and Tephilin bag and started to shake with my mouth hanging open. (I'm shaking now as I write this and crying with the memory). I said "Rav, I need to teshuvah" He said to sit down, so I sat. He said that he had been awakened at 2:44 AM on Motzei Shabbos and called to a Beit Din. He said it took a little while for him to realize for whom, but that he had worked to get my sentence commuted. He then told me that he has been praying for me and that my din meis, my death sentence, he and Rebbaynu (Rebbe Nachman of Breslev) had gotten it reduced to life. They reduced my sentence to lifetime community service. That meant I now had to clean up the mess I made.
This is when I said "Yesh ma la'asot", there is something to do! I'm trying. I now try to see only the good and judge all on the side of schut (merit). The Gemora tells us of a story (Rosh Hashanna, 17a), Rav Huna son of Rav Yehoshua became ill, Rav Pappa went to see him and to inquire about him, He saw that he was on the brink of death and said to the people there "supply him with provisions for his journey", ie. bring him shrouds. Later he recovered and there is a discussion about what Rav Pappa saw. "The Holy One Blessed is He said to the heavenly court since 'since he does not stand on his principal, he is tolerant of others who wronged him, do not take a strict stand against him". He who pardons transgression and overlooks sin, who's transgression does He pardon? "One who overlooks sins committed against himself."
It has been a year now since this took place, I'm not feeling so well. But I'm looking at everything much differently than last year. I fell asleep here and there this year and wasted some time but I did not fall back into my coma. I'm trying, and I have not forgotten that time is short, maybe very short. But what matters most is what we do with it! Together we can help the whole world become a better place. Think positively, do not judge others actions or deeds - they are not our business. Only what we do to others is of our concern. Look and find the good in yourself and in others, and in each and every thing of every day. Thank Hashem for everything, for even the seemingly bad is full of good.
Our job is to find it, expose it and raise up the good out of the seemingly bad of this life. Then you'll start to live! Each of us can be an example of truth and goodness to someone else. Stop being selfish with your time for it's not yours anyway. Stop stealing from our Father in Heaven!, as every thing is His.
And by our not thanking Him for all, we are stealing from His goodness so there is less for others. Please, please dear brothers and sisters stop right now and think. None of us knows whether we have another minute let alone and hour or day. So stop in your tracks right now! Make a firm commitment to change a little each day. Just a little more good can bring the redemption! Who knows if the next positive thought you have may be the one. We do not know, I may not be here to see it, but you might! So help yourself and help another, pray for yourself and pray for others!
And if you would, pray for me!
- Nathanael Levi Ben Chana Sharah for Refuah Shelaymah (a complete recovery) -
Shalom Reb Nati
Sunday, February 22, 2009
// 2/22/2009 //