I want to share with you the power of praying to Hashem at a time of darkness, when things are so bleak that it seems there is no way out. At such a time, if you sincerely turn to Hashem to help, He will answer in ways you would never expect.
This past summer I had the opportunity to take a group of eight teenage girls with me to Israel. The goal of this trip was to expose Bais Yaakov girls to the beauty of Yiddishkeit as it comes alive in a special way in the Holy Land. With that goal in mind, we set out on our trip.
During the course of that summer, we went on many fascinating tours and were having a great time. One particular day, we arrived back at our apartment from a trip to the North of Israel. We dropped our bags, exhausted from the traveling, and settled down to rest and regroup. I gave two of the girls my bank card and asked them to go to the market to buy some food for lunch and supper.
They walked the short distance to the store and filled up a shopping cart with food for our group. When they got to the check-out counter, they handed the cashier my bank card to pay for the order. He swiped the card, but the transaction was declined.
"I’m sorry," he told the girls. "But it says, ‘Not accepted. Insufficient funds.’"
"What?" one girl exclaimed. "How can that be? Please, can you try again?"
He tried it again, but it was no use. The card didn't work. The girls returned to the apartment and told me the bad news.
"There must be some mistake!" I said. "Let me go to the bank and check this out."
I ran over to the bank and discovered that, unfortunately, the cashier was right. For some odd reason, our account was empty. That meant that all the money the girls had pooled to pay for the expenses of the trip was inexplicably failing to register on the account’s balance. If we could not get access to the money, the trip was finished.
I was not sure what to do next. The girls were crying and the mood of our trip was turning sour. I thought to myself, "Hashem, please, this is not a test that we can handle right now. We don't have money to buy basics, and the girls are looking to me for guidance." I told the girls, "It seems to me that the only thing we can do now is daven for Hashem to help us."
"Listen, Chaya Sarah," one of the girls said. "This is not a time to be all spiritual. Let's get real, OK? We’re in big trouble here."
"I know girls, but there is really nothing else to do now."
The girls thought I was being a fanatic, but then they actually took my advice. Each girl in her own words asked Hashem to help us out of our impossible situation.
After the brief prayer, I suggested to the girls that we study two laws of shmiras haloshon in Sefer Chofetz Chaim, which is a known segula in difficult times. Before we began learning, I asked again, "Please, Hashem, help us out here. Your daughters need you now."
After learning the two laws, I suggested to the girls that we go to the Old City, a place where there are many things to do, even if you don't have money. i started seeing the hand of Hashem a min. after we read the halachos and really showed him that we truly trust only in him! We had no money to even take a bus ride.. i put my hand in my pocket and I took out a bus card that had enough for 8 girls to come along!! wow!! Rabbi Wallerstein heard how difficult it was for me, he said i am sending you 2000.00 and he did!! That was all the money that we had till the end of the trip!
A friend of mine named Chani offered to come along and to sponsor supper. We went to the Old City and gratefully ate the supper Chani purchased for us. It was the only meal we ate that day. The girls were still hungry and tired, and worst of all, they were depressed over our difficult situation.
I suggested that we go to the Kosel, but the girls were not interested. It was getting late, and we decided to head back towards the buses and head home. We hoped that somehow, in the morning light, a solution to our dilemma would appear.
As we wound our way through the streets of the Old City, my friend Chani encountered a familiar woman.
"Hi, Chani! What are you doing here?"
"Hello,Pamella. I’m here with some friends."
"Great!" Pamella said, looking at the assembled group of morose girls. "Would you girls like to come up to my home?"
"Yes!" they shouted in unison, suddenly re-energized.
"I'll be with you in a minute.. I'm just saying goodbye to the senator of Texas.."was her reply.
we were completely shocked the senator.. since her father was in the government she always had professionals in her home, so she was very used to having senators and governors all the time!
Pamella had a magnificent home in the old city that was over a few millions dollars directly facing the Kotel!! She and her husband were known throughout the city as generous philanthropists, and Pamella was the quiet force behind many acts of kindness and chesed.
We followed Pamella into her beautiful home, taking in the original artwork that adorned the walls. One of the girls turned to me and said, "Wow! We really went from rags to riches!!
"Are you girls hungry?" Pamella asked.
There was no hesitation.
"yeh a little.."
we didnt want her to know how hungry we were..
The supper we had eaten earlier had barely filled the void left by a long day with little to eat. Besides, the girls had restrained themselves, knowing that Chani was paying the bill and not wishing to take undue advantage.
Since she had the senator of texas she had really fancy food to serve us!!
Pamella maid brought out hot, fresh rugelach and mini hot dogs in blankets and delicious drinks, which the girls devoured.
we felt soo luck to be so well taken care of!!
Then Tammy asked the girls, "Do you know where you are standing?"
"No, where?" they asked.
"Directly across from where the Beis Hamikdosh will be. Come take a look."
She brought us close and told us to peer right ahead of where we were and said, "Look there." We looked out and saw a breathtaking view of the Kotel, above which we were able to see the large dome of the mosque that presently occupies the place of the Bais Hamikdosh. Imagine where the Beis Hamikdosh will be rebuilt..we weer able to see it straight from her porch!!
The girls could not get over the amazing sight. It was as if one moment ago, we were lost in the darkness, and then in the very next moment, Hashem was embracing us, saying "I will not let you go."
The girls were so thrilled, one girl shouted spontaneously, "Hashem is amazing!" I felt as if Hashem were reaching into the hearts of these girls who, although observant, had not found a truly spiritual, inspiring path in their religious lives as yet. He was opening their eyes and letting them know that He is always there, if only we will call to Him.
"Girls I want to tell you something," said Pamella. "I want you to know that Hashem is always with you, no matter how dark a situation is Hashem will always be there to light up your life if you turn to him!
She then told us how she had given up a life of being a model for DKNY, she used to walk down the runway and have thousands of cameras in her face!! she gave it up because she wanted to have Hashem in her life!! she said that a life of Torah and mitzvos is the only way she could see herself living! She told the girls that she wouldn't give it up her Yiddishkeit for anything. She spoke to their hearts and gave them a lot of chizuk, revealing that she was now married for 20 years and had no children, but instead of wallowing in pain, she was using all of her strength to help unfortunate soldiers. She visits them in the hospital and brings them over presents to help them feel better!!
Pamella made a deep impression on the girls at just the moment when they stood at a crossroads in life. She was showing them that Hashem is truly there for them in all situations, and coming from such a woman, the words had a real impact.
After Pamella spoke so candidly to the girls, they opened up to her and told her about the disappearance of all their money and their difficult position.
"Wait here one moment," Pamella said. She went upstairs and when she came down, she was holding a small box. She opened it up and said, "I hope this helps your situation." She handed each girl a 20 shekel bill, and then gave Chani a few hundred shekel just in case, that paid for the entire supper and for the cabs ride home!! We could not believe the hashgacha pratis. The girls were simply floored by the entire experience.
The girls’ hearts were clearly moved. "You know, Chaya Sarah, if you don't see Hashem now, then you would have to be really blind," said one girl. No speech in the world could have done for us what this experience did.
We left the house and the girls turned to me and said, "Now we are ready to go to the Kosel to daven."
We all ran down to the Kosel and embraced the cold stone. It was raining outside, so all the women had gone indoors to daven, and no one was standing at the wall when we arrived. We had it all for ourselves.
The girls stood there, oblivious to the pouring rain, and they were all screaming,"I love you Hashem!" "Thank you Hashem!"
I stood back and watched proudly as these girls finally made the connection I was waiting for. In the moment of darkness, they had found Hashem, and I hoped and prayed that night that they would never let go.
The girls later told me that this experience, which started out as the potential ruination of the trip, became its unforgettable highlight.
I believe the lesson of my story is that sometimes Hashem places us in darkness,, but when He does, He wants us to know, " I am with you in the pain, I am right there. If you turn to Me at that moment of darkness, you will see Me turn the darkness to light. In the end, you will thank Me and praise Me," because only in the darkness can you really come to see Hashem. We saw Hashem that night, and so will you.