Food for Thought: Divine Providence and Individual Destinies (27 January, 2014, 26 Shevet 5774)
I read an article in the Weekend English edition of HaModia an ultra-orthodox publication about a famous Rabbi who was visiting Poland the place of his childhood.
The article is of interest and perhaps has some significance to our studies.
"It Happened in Poland Not so Long Ago" by Rabbi C. Friedman
as told by
Harav Chamin Dovid Halberstam (Features, HaModia C3, 22 Shevat, 5774/January 23, 2014).
Here in condensed form are the outlines of what happened.
Rabbi Chamin Dovid Halberstam was a member of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe.
He travelled to Poland several times after WW2.
Being bearded with sidelocks etc and dressed in the relevant garb he was easily recognizable as a Rabbinical authority.
While sitting in a hotel lobby in Cracow a woman approached him.
She wanted advice. Her parents had been killed in the holocaust. Before the Germans killed them, her parents had managed to give her into the care of a Christian family. They mistreated her.
She had escaped and attached herself to a Gentile family while hiding her Jewishness.
Eventually she married and had three children. The marriage was a happy one but she believed her husband to be anti-Jewish like many of their neighbors. She had hidden her identity from him.
Now she was sick and felt she was about to die. Her mother had visited her in recurring dreams and warned her to be buried in Jewish cemetery. She was afraid of how her husband would react if he found out she was Jewish. She wanted advice.
The Rabbi suggested that she write a letter, give it to a trusted friend, and then if and when she passed away the friend would give the latter to the family.
She seemed pleased with the idea and wrote her name on a note which she gave to the Rabbi asking him to pray for her.
A few years later Rabbi Halberstam was again in Poland, this time in the region of Warsaw. He hired a taxi driver to take him to Bialystock. The driver engaged him in conversation and then confessed that he too was Jewish. He then related how he knew this.
Some months previously his mother had died. A friend of the mother gave them a letter entrusted to her beforehand. The letter was from their deceased mother. The father read it to the family.
The mother said she was Jewish and asked to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
At first the family hesitated since they were afraid of their neighbors some of whom were rabidly anti-Jewish.
The father came up with a plan to bury her locally and then transfer the body elsewhere on the pretext that they were moving the body to the birthplace of the mother. From there they could smuggle the body into a Jewish cemetery and so they did.
A few weeks after this the father suffered a massive heart attack and knew that he too was about to die.
He called his children together and told them that he also was Jewish but his parents had taught him to hide it. He asked that when he died he should be buried in the Jewish cemetery besides his wife.
Upon hearing this story the Rabbi took out the note he had received from the woman and asked the driver if that was his mother.
Rabbi Halberstam later went to the graveyard and the neighborhood in question and verified that the story was true.
Such things do happen.
From this tale we see the hand of Divine Providence.
We also see that people often marry those they are closer to in ways neither are aware of.