Changing Course

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Anyone who has visited the saintly city of Bnei Brak, Eretz Yisrael can attest to the myriad of bus stops that dot its ancient streets moving residents about. Several years ago an amazing story unfolded on the night of Motza'ei Rosh Hashanah. As the hour grew late a sizable crowd of Yerushalmi Jews gathered at one of these simple bus shelters patiently waiting to take the next "402" bus to Yerushalayim, their home city, however, the bus simply was showing.

The group began worrying and pondered the reality of spending the night in Bnei Brak, a huge difficulty and inconvenience for them and their young children. Soon, at a distance, an empty bus faintly appeared in the distance; and the excitement was palatable. Yet, on further inspection, they made out the approaching bus number and could tell that it was “318” traveling to Rechovot quickly filling the faces of the group with sheer disappointment. A collective sigh was felt by all. Nonetheless, a few of the movers and shakers amongst those gathered boldly opted to plead with the driver to alter his route for the 402's, and change his route to Jerusalem, after all, who needs to go to Rechovot this late at night, everyone present is from Jerusalem! The driver was adamant, "No way, I’m not interested. There is no way that I am risking my job." Persistent, the men tried with all their might to alleviate his concerns and speak to his compassion. In no time, everyone joined the chorus until the nahag relented, “Alright, I’ll do it!” A roar of cheers and joy erupted! Excited, the crowd entered the 318 bus, ever so thankful to the wonderful and considerate driver, “Thank you so much,” “May Hashem bless you,” “You should have great brachah,” were just some of the exhalations that the driver warmly absorbed, as he switched the line number from “318” to “402.” By the outskirts of the Yerushalayim, as the long journey concluded, one of the passengers approached asking, “Sir, I have been wondering, why, after all, did you do change your mind? Such a decision could easily cost you your job! The bus company must know you failed to follow protocol simply by using their navigation and tracking systems!" The bus driver smiled and explained, “My dear fellow, you are very mistaken... The command center of the bus services realized that the Jerusalem bus was not making it to Bnei Brak and that a large crowd had already gathered. They tried to dispatch a number of local drivers they mustered up but each had refused. Each bus driver knew that the poor driver who would finally arrive at the bus stop would get the brunt of the crowd's anger, “Why so late?” “Don’t you realize we have little kids?” and on and on. I decided to take on the mission and played a little trick. I displayed the number “318” knowing full well that I would be asked to change my bus route. This way instead of being the great villain, I would come out a hero that was willing to swap my route just to spare the suffering of others, and guess what, it worked like a charm!”

For readers, the lesson learned is that sometimes we must lower our expectations and recognize that all has already been handled by Hashem in the absolutely best way, and we might not need the so-called driver to change his bus number all that often. Let us realize this reality from the start, whatever is coming our way is Hashem's goodness and blessing!

Adapted from Be'er HaParsha by Rav Elimelech Biderman shlit"a.

Rabbi Leeor Dahan, a graduate of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim/RSA, is well versed in aspects of halachah and has written commentary on the Mishnah Berurah, and Shulchan Aruch. Rabbi Dahan encourages his congregants at Kehilat Avodat Hashem in Hillcrest, Queens to find time in their day for the study of Torah and associated halachic customs.