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A Sukkot Story of Divine Protection

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Two Sukkots ago, I found myself walking with my friend in an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem holding a lulav. We had intended to walk from Ramat Eshkol toward the Old City and unknowingly, we went in the complete opposite direction, walking further and further into East Jerusalem. We were told we would pass through an Arab area at some point, but after forty minutes, when we still did not see a single Jew, we began to panic. We stuck out like sore thumbs; I was holding a lulav for G-d’s sake! It was still yom tov for us, meaning that it was a holiday where we could not use our phones or get into a car or onto the light rail train. People who permanently live outside of Israel observe two days of the holiday, whereas Israelis observe one day. That year, it was a two-day holiday which went right into Shabbat.

We agreed to speak only words of Torah as a merit for G-d to protect us. Soon after, we noticed a black car following us. When we stopped, the car pulled over. When we kept walking, the car followed us. We stopped again; the car stopped. The driver lowered his window and called to us, but we ignored him. I began shaking. This man was trying to abduct us. It was getting close to the end of the day. The trains would stop running soon in honor of Shabbat. We decided that this was truly a matter of life or death and so we could get onto the train (In Jewish law, preservation of life is paramount). We ran toward the next train station as the train was pulling in, but by the time we got to the platform, it pulled away.

We saw an Israeli conductor who worked for the train on the platform. That was the last train before Shabbat, he informed us. What were we going to do? Just then, the man in the black car pulled over, got out of the car, and approached us. At least the conductor was there. After a minute of them conversing, the conductor explained that this man worked for the Israeli government and his job was to protect Jews that were in Arab areas. When we looked closer, we saw that he had an official Israeli government uniform on and his car was an official government car. He wasn’t trying to abduct us; he was trying to help us! We got into his car and he dropped us off exactly where we had started our journey an hour before.

This time, as we headed in the right direction, we were humbled by the blessing we had just received. Even more incredible was that we experienced this miracle on Succot, when we are meant to understand that G-d alone protects us. Sometimes, we don’t understand why something is happening and it seems to be harmful, but it actually turns out to be for our benefit. We have to trust that G-d is guiding us and protecting us at all times, even when it seems like exactly the opposite! Chag Sameach!

Resource Suggestion:

  1. Chol Hamoed (The intermediate days of Sukkot are called “Chol Hamoed,” literally “the weekday of the holiday.” Find out what that means here!)

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