Thank you for that flat tire!

Friday, 29 November, 2019 - 4:41 am

 “Zalman, your car is being towed!” You have to admit that that is one of the most annoying messages a person can get. Add to that that it was happening not in the country I live in, that the car was rented and that the day was a very busy one. Not fun.

This happened last Sunday. I was in New York for the World Annual Conference of Chabad Shluchim. The car I had rented was parked on President Street in a good place. As mentioned already, this was a Sunday, which is the policemen’s day of rest. But this was also the day on which the central banquet – the evening summarizing the Conference – was taking place; and President Street was the starting point for the buses that were to take the thousands of rabbis to the banquet hall. Therefore, probably for reasons of security, the New York Police Department wanted the street cleared of all cars. And in New York, as in New York, nobody asks questions. Police tow-trucks simply towed all the parked cars straight to a local police yard.

And so, not only was my car going to be towed, but I would also have to find out which yard it is in, pay about $300, and who knows if after all this I would make it in time to the banquet.

Rushing out of the red brick building, the Beit Midrash of the Rebbe, known as 770, I was talking myself: “Don’t let this ruin the day for you. Accept it all with love, it’s not so terrible. Even if they towed it already you’ll find it and get it back, after paying the necessary payment. Accept with love. Everyone is healthy, everyone is feeling well. That’s the main thing. May it serve as a kapparat avonot (atonement for my sins).” When I reached the wide street I saw that it was closed off, almost empty of cars, and two police tow-trucks were towing those that remained. The street was empty – except for my white car, which was where I had left it.

I ran to it happily, and saw the reason why it hadn’t been towed – one of the back wheels had a respectable looking flat tire. I lifted my eyes up the Heaven and said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, thank you for this flat tire!” “What a miracle it is to have this flat tire”, I continued to say to myself, as I changed it with the help of the shaliach in Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Shraga Dahan. We did not know each other, but he hurried to roll up his sleeves and help me with the jack, as we stood there in the rain. “I would have been searching for the yard, roaming around for several exhausting hours and spending money needlessly in order to release the car. This flat tire is a particularly sweet miracle!”

When we had finished, and I had parked the car on a different street, I realized that if I would have had a flat tire without having been threatened with towing, I would probably have gotten angry and upset about it. And now, instead of getting angry and crying, I was happy and thanking Hashem for this very flat tire. And who knows how many other times in my life Hashem arranged such “flat tires” in order to save me from greater problems?  We must thank Hashem for everything, if only because Hashem plans man’s steps, and our Rabbis have taught us that nothing bad comes down from Heaven.

The Prophet Yeshayahu said in his prophecy about the end of days, “And you shall say on that day, I thank you Hashem because You were angry with me.” In other words, when the Geulah comes we will see that all the difficulties we endured during the exile were for the good, and we will even thank Hashem for them and declare: “I thank You Hashem because you were angry with me.” I was privileged to experience something like this this week, when I was thanking Hashem for my flat tire.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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