I would like to share a personal story with you that highlights some of the best aspects of Klal Yisroel.
This past Sunday, I was driving to Toronto from Brooklyn with my wife and four children. All was going well and we were making good time, until approx 10:30 pm. We were a few miles out of the Clarence Rest Stop on the NYS Thruway, not far from Exit 50 (near Buffalo), when a tar-like smell began to creep into my nostrils. I looked down at the RPM gauge of my minivan, and sure enough, the dial was gesticulating wildly, irrespective of whether I was accelerating or not. It was clearly a transmission problem (I had just had my transmission replaced about two months ago.) The mechanic had assured me that all was fine, however, clearly, all was not fine!
I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, put on my 4 way flashers and began to call for roadside assistance. However I was very uncomfortable sitting in a car right on the side of the busy highway. The shoulder was not very wide, and the highway was dark and deserted. Every passing car and truck would make a huge “whoosh” as it passed by and our car would shake a bit. Clearly this was not an ideal location, to say the least.
For better or worse, I decided to try and make it to the next service area, which was some 2-3 miles away. My minivan groaned under the strain, and would not go more than 30 mph, but baruch hashem we did make it to the safety of the service area.
As we were pulling in, I noticed another frum family sitting in a minivan. My wife quickly approached them and asked for some assistance. Here we were, hundreds of miles from home, and over 100 miles from our destination, in middle of the night (by this time it was after 11pm), with no way of getting to Toronto!
This kind family, a couple with some teen aged daughters, gladly offered to take two of my children to Toronto where my in-laws would pick them up! We quickly prepared a document for the Canadian border, explaining our predicament and allowing this wonderful family to cross without any hassles.
While we were arranging this ride, and waiting for the tow truck, another frum fellow approached me. He is a member of the Toronto Hatzolah, and was just returning from a visit to the States as well. If I tell you that this man was a ba’al chesed, it would be the understatement of the year. Not only did this kind man put me at ease, but he did the following: He and his wife and children followed my car as it was being towed some 15 miles (out of his way!). Then after the tow truck had deposited us at the closed service area, he drove me to the Buffalo airport, assisted me in getting a rental car, waited for me while the paperwork was being completed, then drove alongside me back to the service area to pick up my luggage from my broken vehicle, and even took a few items that would not fit back to Toronto for me!! This man and his family literally spent a few hours assisting me, at a very late hour, many hours into their trip. At a time when most people would be very anxious to arrive at their destination, this tzaddik made me feel like he had all the time in the world.
All this for a total stranger!! The driver of the tow truck asked me: “Are you guys traveling together?” I told the driver that in fact, I did not even know this person until just a few minutes ago. The driver was incredulous, and said that would never happen with his people. it goes without saying that this was a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.
I know that the two wonderful Toronto families who assisted me would value their privacy, so I will not disclose their names. But I did want to give a public thanks on this forum to two selfless families who embody some of the best middos that Klal Yisrael has. I was so proud to be a frum Jew that night. I truly was.
Mi K’Amcha Yisroel!!
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