Forty-year old Diane moved to Atlanta from New York about five years ago. At the time, she was unaffiliated, but slowly she found herself attending Shabbat services at a local synagogue.
The following is based on a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent:
Forty-year old Diane moved to Atlanta from New York about five years ago. At the time, she was unaffiliated, but slowly she found herself attending Shabbat services at a local synagogue. Soon after that, she began attending classes, and, in particular, the monthly Torah from Dixie lectures. This is where I first met Diane. She was attempting to grow spiritually. Jewishly, she knew something had been lacking in her life up until this point. Month after month, she attended the classes and told me of her continued growth as a Jew.
In August of 1997, about a year after I first met Diane, I was at the grocery store getting refreshments for a Torah from Dixie class which would be given that night. While there, I fortuitously bumped into a local rabbi who asked why I was purchasing so much food. Upon informing him of the upcoming class, he told me that he had received an extra-large shipment of asher yatzar posters in the mail.
Asher yatzar is the prayer that one is supposed to recite upon using the restroom. In it, we thank G-d for creating the human body with all its amazing capabilities including the ability to go to the bathroom. The rabbi was referring to mini-posters which contained the prayer on it that people could hang outside the restroom to remind them to recite the prayer. He asked if I would make them available to people attending the class that night. I took several of the posters and brought them with me to the class.
A couple months later, I received a phone call from Diane. She told me that after the last class, she had taken home one of the asher yatzar posters. Before then, she had never heard of the prayer. She hung the poster that night and recited the prayer for the very first time in her life. Diane began to tell me that for her entire adult life she had had a serious digestive problem. She had gone to numerous doctors both in New York and Atlanta to help her with the problem, but to no avail. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong.
That night, after reciting asher yatzar for the first time, her problem miraculously disappeared. It is now more than a year later, and Diane's digestive problem has not recurred since she began saying the asher yatzar prayer.
In this week's Torah portion, we read of how Yitro heard about the miracles which Hashem performed for the Jewish people during their exodus, and his subsequent decision to join the Jewish people. It was a simple resolve for Yitro: How could he not recognize Hashem's greatness after such explicit representations of His supreme power?
Unfortunately, today we do not witness the splitting of the Red Sea or the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, so it is much harder for us to be like Yitro and jump on the Jewish bandwagon. However, like Diane, we are exposed to small personal miracles where we have little choice but to believe in Hashem's Divine providence. Not everyone has such clear examples as Diane did, but if we choose to live a G-d-centric lifestyle, it will be hard for us to miss G-d's constant involvement in our daily lives. If we choose to place our Jewish beliefs at the core of our existence, with everything else emanating from that nucleus, we will begin to see G-d's glorious hand in all that we do.
Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan and alumnus of Yeshiva Atlanta, is editor of Torah from Dixie.
You are invited to read more Parshat Yitro articles.
Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org