July 9, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Consummate Storyteller: Rabbi Nachman Seltzer

Highlighting: “I Have an Amazing Story for You!” by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer. ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications. 2022. Hardcover. 364 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422632352.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) In London. On Broadway. In an American army base in the Philippines during the Second World War. Wherever there are Jews … there are stories. And wherever there are stories … there is Rabbi Nachman Seltzer, keeping us spellbound and inspired.

It’s actually quite amazing how many stories Rabbi Seltzer finds. Even more amazing is how amazing those amazing stories are!

In “I Have an Amazing Story for You! 4,” we will read, in fascinating detail, about one woman’s near-death experience. We will watch the legendary Rav Yitzchok Dovid Grossman dancing—on a sidewalk on Broadway. We will discover almost unbelievable hashgachah pratis in a shul whose aron kodesh was, for no apparent reason, locked on Shabbos afternoon.

And as we read the incredible stories, we will find ourselves uplifted, inspired and, yes, amazed.

The following is one story from the book, titled “The Direction Change.”

• • • •

My daughter Sara had been dating for a long time. I felt as if I’d become acquainted with every shadchan in Eretz Yisrael, and all of them had become my personal friends. Though I had tried for a long time to narrow down what Sara was looking for, the only thing I knew for sure was that the boy had to be a fluent English speaker and not Israeli-born. At some point, I realized that I didn’t know what to do anymore. I no longer felt comfortable calling shadchanim when my daughter was so unclear about what she wanted.

One afternoon, I traveled to the Kosel to pour out my heart to Hashem.

“I cannot do this anymore,” I said to Hashem. “I don’t know what she wants, and neither does she. You, however, know exactly what she wants. Please send him!”

I davened for a while longer and then I left the Kosel, satisfied that I had told Hashem what I’d come to say.

• • • •

The situation took a twist in a different direction a few months later.

We had been scheduled to go to the Beit Shemesh home of one of our daughters for a Chanukah party that night and were already on the way when Sara’s phone rang. She answered, and her face froze. There was no question in my mind that she’d just received bad news—the only question was, what kind. When she finally got off the phone, she told us, “Tonight’s plans are changed. The party is not happening at Avigail’s house.”

We asked her what had happened. She explained that our other daughter had called to tell us that Avigail had just been taken to the hospital.

Avigail was expecting a baby at the time, and clearly something had gone wrong. It looked like Avigail was going to lose the baby.

• • • •

As we drove toward Beit Shemesh, I could see that Sara was lost in thought. Soon she turned to me and said, “I’ve been saving up my money for a while. I’d planned on making a major donation to one of the big tzedakah sites in the merit of finding my zivug soon. But now I think I’m going to change my mind and donate the money as a zechus that Avigail’s baby should be born healthy and complete.”

She then turned to her brother, who was also in the car, and suggested that he do the same.

I was very impressed that Sara would take so much money—money that she had planned to use for herself—and use it for something else. But there was no question in her mind that this was what she wanted to do.

Baruch Hashem, the baby survived. His parents called him Ariel.

Sara was naturally thrilled by the turn of events and went out of her way to develop a relationship with her nephew.

• • • •

About eight months after his birth, Ariel developed an infection and had to be hospitalized. With four other children at home, it was very complicated for Avigail to stay with him at the hospital during the nighttime hours. To ease the load, Sara stayed in the hospital with Ariel during the daytime hours and slept overnight with him as well.

Sara was there for him when he woke up and cried because he was in a strange place, and she was there to hold him and comfort him. Every morning, the doctor would make his rounds and ask the family members what had occurred during the night. Since Sara was the family member who had been with Ariel, it was she who gave the doctor the report. After a week, Ariel recovered from his infection. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health and permission to return home. With her nephew back in his daily routine, Sara returned to her life, too.

• • • •

A few days later, Avigail’s husband Yehuda received a phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this Yehuda?”

“Speaking. Who is this?”

“It’s your baby’s doctor, Itamar.”

Now it just so happened that Yehuda and Itamar had gone to the same yeshivah together and had known each other for years.

“Thank you for taking such good care of my baby,” Yehuda told his old friend.

“You’re very welcome.”

“So, what can I do for you?”

“This is going to come as a little bit of a surprise,” the doctor said, “but I would appreciate it very much if you’d be willing to ask your in-laws if they would look into me as a prospective husband for your sister-in-law.”

“You mean the sister-in-law who stayed with my baby at the hospital?”

“Yes. I’ll send you my resume, and of course you can check with our rebbeim whom I’ve kept in touch with over the last ten years…”

• • • •

Yehuda didn’t waste any time. After he got off the phone, he called me up and told me the entire story.

“But Yehuda,” I said, “you know what the problem is going to be?”

“Yes, I know. Itamar is Israeli, and Sara only wants someone English-speaking.”

“Exactly.”

“Still, maybe tell Sara what happened and ask her. Let me know what she says.”

So I called Sara and told her that someone had expressed interest in meeting her.

“Who, Mommy?”

“The doctor who took care of Ariel in the hospital.”

“Tell him yes!”

“But he’s Israeli.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

And it didn’t.

• • • •

From time to time, I think about my daughter’s shidduch and how it came about. I think about the fact that she’d always insisted that Israelis weren’t for her, and how she ended up marrying one. I think about the fact that I told Hashem that I didn’t know what to do and asked Him to take over—and He did. Of course, I also think about the fact that my daughter took all the money she’d intended to give to tzedakah as a merit for herself, and gave it instead as a merit for her sister and unborn nephew. And how that baby was the one who actually introduced her to her husband.

I think about all these things from time to time.

Then I smile. Because it is just so obvious that there is Someone up there running the world.

—As heard from Sara’s mother

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