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The Fire that Brought Success
by C.D. Schwartz

We made aliyah to Israel back in March of 1991, right after the Gulf War. When we first moved there, my in-laws would lend my husband their old car so he could use it to establish and run his business. Eventually they gave us their car as a gift, as my mother-in-law felt that she was too old to drive safely and my husband really needed it for his business. Although it was great receiving a free car, over time it needed frequent visits to the repair shop.

One day the repairman gave us the sad news – the car wasn’t worth repairing any more. We unfortunately couldn’t afford to buy a used car in its place. Things were tough financially and we were really struggling, but we didn’t want to ask my in-laws for more help than what they had already given. The mechanic suggested we just sell it to a junkyard, but we wouldn’t get much from doing that, so we held off on deciding what to do.

We spent a few months fretting over how to overcome this dilemma while the car barely hung in there. We completely ruled out the option of trying to re-sell it as it certainly wouldn’t have been honest trying to pass the car off as anything worthwhile for someone else to buy. But the junk yard option would not bring in enough money to purchase a new car.

We did what any Jew would probably do – we prayed to Hashem for help!

A few months went by. I happened to be pregnant with our second child and wasn’t feeling well, so a good friend came to help me every day, to enable my husband to go to work. She brought along her sweet little one-and-a-half-year old boy, who also was a good playmate for our four-year-old. One day, my husband was in a lot of pressure to get to work early. Since my friend had to take a bus from another neighborhood, she couldn’t get to us quickly enough. My husband called her and offered to drive over and bring her back.

She agreed, and he took our four-year-old along for the ride. I stayed home to rest. After they didn’t return at the expected time, I began to become a bit concerned. They showed up an hour and a half later looking wide-eyed and shaken. Then they told me the story…

After my husband had picked them up and started driving back, he noticed a smell of gasoline. He pulled over and lifted the hood of the car, but didn’t see anything wrong at the time. He got back in and continued driving. A few minutes later, while they were driving up a very busy main street in Jerusalem called Bar Ilan, he suddenly saw some smoke coming out of the hood. Realizing the potential danger, he quickly told everyone to get out of the car as quickly as possible.

Right after all four of them safely reached the sidewalk, the engine burst into flames and the whole car quickly became one large bonfire! They stood in shock as they watched the large inferno burning in the middle of the busy street.

Someone called the fire department and the fire engines came and finally put out the huge blaze. It was so badly burned it was totally beyond repair. My husband tried rummaging through what was left of the car to see if he could salvage anything, but it was so badly burned the key was melted into the ignition to the point you couldn’t even identify what the melted mass was. But then something caught his eye – he always kept a Chitas (a book that includes the Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya and is called by the acronym Chitas) on the dashboard right next to the front window. There sat the Chitas. The cover, which was a very thick cardboard, had totally burned. But the book itself, whose pages are extremely thin and delicate, had miraculously survived intact! The edges around the pages were colored dark gray and black from the heat of the blaze, but the holy book itself survived in one piece.

Hashem, in His infinite kindness and mercy, had made sure that all of four of the passengers safely reached the sidewalk before the whole car burst into flames.

After my husband related his tale, he mentioned that it was a pity we wouldn’t even be able to get the small fee that the junkyard might have given us.

Although we were overwhelmingly grateful that everyone was safe, the loss of the car seemed like another blow in our predicament. Until my friend suddenly jumped up and said, “But wait – didn’t you tell me that your in-laws had put full insurance on the car for you? Don’t you realize what that means? You’ll get full coverage and that will probably be enough money to buy another used car!”

When we overcame our initial shock, we realized that she was right - there was full insurance and we would most likely now be able to get another used car. Now we had even more reason to celebrate – the miraculous salvation from what could have been a horrible accident, and a solution for our financial plight. 

   
 

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