My family tries to maximize our time when we travel from our home in Israel to the US. We try to fit in as much touring, family and friend time, and shopping as we can.
One summer, we shortened our trip just a bit in order to return home in time to attend the wedding of the son of my husband’s chavrusa. On our last day in New York, we managed to squeeze in some last-minute shopping and then rushed to the airport. Upon arrival, we were quite surprised when the airline attendant informed us that our flight was delayed by an hour, and since we probably wouldn’t make our connecting flight, they took the liberty of booking us on another flight five hours later. My husband immediately sent a message to his chavrusa, telling him that, due to a delay, we would arrive late to the wedding but were still looking forward to sharing in his simchah.
When we arrived at our stopover destination, we headed straight towards the transit desk where a major uproar was already in progress, with passengers trying to get on an earlier flight back to Israel. The airline employees were faced with a large number of Israeli passengers who were not at all shy about making their needs heard and about expressing what they thought about the service they were receiving from the airline. Fights broke out. It was not a pretty scene. I think they were in shock. But there was nothing they could do for us. We had no choice but to wait five hours for the next flight. We were able to purchase bottled water with our food vouchers, as the beautiful fruit that shined to perfection that was on display was for shakes only.
When it was time to board our flight, there was no dilly-dallying at all. Everyone was anxious to get home. However, while the airline workers appeared to be busying themselves with preparing for takeoff, we didn’t seem to be going anywhere. We had been sitting on the plane for about an hour when the pilot announced that there was a problem with the plane. We would have to disembark and wait for another plane. Was he kidding? Another delay? Couldn’t be. We thought maybe we hadn’t heard correctly. I asked a flight attendant to please repeat what the pilot said, and she confirmed that, baruch Hashem, my hearing is still intact. Nobody could believe it. We all disembarked and were ushered into another holding area where we waited for our next plane.
A quick time calculation made us realize that there was no way we could get to the wedding. My husband sent a very apologetic message to his chavrusa, informing him that, despite our best intentions, unfortunately, we wouldn’t make it. Eventually we all boarded the next plane and, baruch Hashem, the rest of our journey was uneventful. After a very quick reunion with our son, who picked us up from the airport, we decided to make a mad dash for the wedding hall. If nothing else, at least we could wish the baalei simchah a mazal tov.
We arrived at the hall dressed in the clothes we’d been wearing for two days straight, looking a bit worn and weary, just as they were getting ready to leave. The shocked expressions on their faces was priceless. They were so touched that we made the effort to come even at that late hour. Looking like peasants at a ball, we took pictures with the chasan and kallah and received an immediate invitation to sheva brachos scheduled for later that week. All in all, the story had a happy ending.
After we returned home and things quieted down, I began to think about our recent journey. We were forced to spend an extra eight hours in travel and missed a wedding that we very much wanted to attend. It didn’t seem fair. I began to wonder if we were eligible for some sort of compensation for the unfortunate set of circumstances we found ourselves in. Some quick research showed that, by law, the airline was obligated to compensate us for what had happened. The compensation package we received covered a good portion of the expense of our trip. Not a bad deal at all. I was happy I had thought to ask. Then I thought about the passengers who were unaware that if only they would ask, they, too, would be eligible for compensation.
And then I thought how this is so similar to t’filah. Hashem, in His kindness, has so much that He wants to give us. Like a father who wants to shower upon His children everything that his child could possibly want and need, Hashem wants to give to us, His children. But we need to ask. Hashem could give us everything we want and need on a silver platter. But without our turning to Him, what would happen to our relationship with Him? That was the punishment that Hashem gave to the nachash in Gan Eden. He made it so that the nachash will eat the dust of the earth. All of his needs will be met automatically. He will have no need to ask anything of Hashem. The punishment is that they will have no relationship. But that is not what Hashem wants of us. Hashem wants a relationship with each and every one of us. He wants us to reach out and connect with Him anywhere and anytime. But how can we connect to Him if we don’t feel that we need Him and depend on Him for every moment we live and every breath we take? If everything we wanted would come to us effortlessly, we might attribute all that we have as being due to our own efforts rather than being gifts from Hashem. We also wouldn’t appreciate what we have quite as much.
Hashem is waiting to shower us with goodness, brachah, and all that we need. But don’t forget to ask!
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.