One of the most famous midrashim on the Torah concerns the Arbaah Minim that we take on Sukkos. “‘Fruit of the hadar tree’ symbolizes Israel: Just as the esrog has taste as well as fragrance, so Israel has among them those who possess learning and good deeds. ‘Branches of palm-trees’ also applies to Israel: Just as the palm tree has taste but no fragrance, so Israel has among them those who possess learning but not good deeds. ‘And boughs of a myrtle tree’ likewise applies to Israel: Just as the myrtle has fragrance but no taste, so Israel has among them those who possess good deeds but not learning. ‘And willows of a brook’ also applies to Israel: Just as the willow has no taste and no fragrance, so Israel has among them those who possess neither learning nor good deeds. What does the Holy One, blessed be He, do to them? To destroy them is impossible. ‘However,’ says the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘let them all be bound together in one bundle, and they will atone one for another.’”
A young man living in Israel was a chasid of Chabad. He was a remarkable fellow, jovial and pleasant, and always looked to try to help others. He lived not far from a road junction where many buses stopped on a typical day, picking up and letting off passengers who were going to various places in Israel. Good-naturedly, he used to go there to assist people as they got on and off the bus and also put t’filin on people’s arms who hadn’t done so yet. He met all types of interesting people and loved helping people do this mitzvah.
On the Yom Tov of Sukkos, he had an idea to go to the bus stop with his Arbaah Minim and offer people who hadn’t shaken them yet to do the mitzvah. Every day of Chol HaMoed, he would stand at the junction and, indeed, many people took him up on his offer. Often, he would teach them the correct blessing to make and how to hold the lulav and esrog. But he didn’t mind. They would make the brachos and he would yell out “Amein” for all to hear. He beamed with joy. He did this even on Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of the Sukkos festival.
One year, he went to the road junction as usual on his bicycle and offered to make a blessing for people over the four species. He stood in his place almost the entire day, enjoying his interaction with people and the z’chuyos he was accruing. When he saw that the sun was beginning to set and nightfall was fast approaching, when the mitzvos are not performed, he loaded his basket with his lulav, esrog, hadasim, and aravos, his siddur, some food he had brought along, vodka, cookies, and some of his pamphlets that he gave out. He mounted his bike and turned in the direction of his house.
It was already quite late, and the shadows deepened, but he wanted still to have time to go to the mikvah before sundown, so the young man began to ride at high speed on his bike. He was cruising through the streets, making good time. When he approached one of the major crossroads, somehow, the cuff of his pants suddenly got caught in the chain of his bicycle. He felt the pull, but he was unable to stop, and he suddenly panicked as he was riding through a busy intersection at high speed. Quickly, and with little alternative, he maneuvered his handlebars to the right, swerving onto a side road he had never known existed, which led to an industrial area that was empty at this time of day.
As he rushed down the small dirt road, he began to maintain control once again over his bicycle and he let himself ride until he gradually slowed down and came to a halt. He was inside the industrial area now, with huge factory-like buildings before him. He looked down and his cuff was still stuck but he was afraid to pull too hard without tearing his good suit pants.
The place looked deserted, and he didn’t know what to do. But then, he noticed off in the distance, a man walking towards a car. It appeared that the man was going home for the day. Urgently, the young Chabad chasid called out, “Hello? Hi, can you please help me over here?” The man looked up and saw the boy on the bike and walked over to him.
The young man explained what had happened and showed him the cuff of his pants. The worker smiled and easily managed to free the pants. Heaving a sigh of relief, the chasid thanked him and wanted to turn the bicycle around in order to ride back to his house, when the worker asked him: “What is that in your basket? Is that a lulav?”
“Yes,” he answered. “I have here a full set of Arbaah Minim for Sukkos.” To his surprise, the man said, “That is great! Just perfect. You see, they have me working night shifts and I sleep during the day. I did not get a chance to make a brachah over the lulav and esrog yet this holiday of Sukkos. Perhaps you can let me hold the four species and make the blessing!”
What hashgachah pratis! The young chasid was absolutely thrilled, and the worker said the brachah of “She’hecheyanu” in addition to the regular brachah over the lulav and esrog, a few short minutes before sundown.
“Hashem directs the steps of man,” thought the chasid – even when riding a bicycle!