May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A number of years ago, the infant daughter of a close friend and colleague suddenly took ill and had to be hospitalized. The man’s wife stayed in the hospital round the clock with their baby while he shuttled back and forth between the hospital and home, caring for their other children. During one of the nights that his wife was in the hospital he inadvertently left his car door unlocked, something he never does, with his laptop on the seat. When he got into his car the following morning the laptop was gone.

Later that day when he was back in the hospital, he went downstairs to the bikur cholim room to warm up pizza for his and his wife’s lunch.

When he entered the elevators holding the two slices heading back up to the hospital room there was an elevator repairman standing inside. He looked at the mechanic and said (as I invariably would have), “Well at least if the elevator gets stuck, we’ll be OK.” The repairman hardly smiled as the doors closed.

Ironically enough, moments later as the elevator was ascending there was a thud and the elevator stopped moving. The repairman looked at my friend blankly, shrugged, took out his cell phone and made some calls. After an extended period of time the repairman was finally able to pry the door open. During that time my friend’s wife was waiting nervously for him. (He didn’t have his cell phone on him).

The elevator was stationed halfway between the next floor so that when the door opened my friend was able to see the feet of the people waiting for the adjacent elevator. They suddenly saw two slices of pizza fly out of the elevator followed by a religious bearded fellow climbing out. Impatient to get back to his wife and baby, he waved politely and walked off.

A few days later my friend went to speak to his rebbe. “What message is Hashem trying to send me? My baby was in the hospital, my laptop was stolen, and I got stuck in the hospital elevator with the repairman! Does Hashem want something from me?”

His rebbe replied that he had no idea why it all happened. However, he suggested to my friend that he sit down with his wife and calculate the hidden chesed that Hashem did for them during that time. He wanted them to figure out the things that could have been worse had they happened differently.

My friend related that when they made the list, he was surprised to realize that indeed there were many things that happened which they had not realized had made the difficult situation more bearable. This was even before his baby left the hospital and everything was b”H fine.

I have thought about this anecdote many times. My wife and I have utilized this advice on a few occasions. After difficult situations transpired, we reviewed what occurred and realized that as difficult and challenging as the situation was, there was much to be thankful for.

We live in a world that is hyper-focused on the things we don’t have. Happiness, however, lies in counting and realizing our blessings even, or perhaps especially, in challenging situations.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience: [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info

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