Message from Above
My mother was born in Kentucky in the early 1900s. When she was just seven years old, her father contracted a terrible case of pneumonia and passed away soon afterwards, leaving his wife widowed with six small orphans to care for. It was a tragic end to a short life.
Although I never had the privilege of knowing my grandfather, Alfred Esses a”h, I always dreamed of organizing an event dedicated to his memory. After a few weeks of brainstorming, I finally decided to host a package party in order to raise money for a widow and her six small orphans. I knew that all the mitzvot from the day would go to his merit, and I felt very fortunate to be doing something special and eternal for the grandfather that I never knew. Thank Gd, the party was a great success.
The day after the package party, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for my son. I came very late for my appointment, and so I rushed to write my son’s name on the sign-in sheet to reserve my place in line. And then I saw it. Every single name on the sign in sheet had been crossed out, except for one. The only name on the list was… Alfred Esses.
I knew that my grandfather was coming down to this world to thank me for the mitzvah that I had done for him just the day before. If I had come to the appointment earlier, I would not have seen the name on the chart. If I had come even a few minutes later, the nurse would have crossed the name off the list. I had arrived for my appointment at the exact time that Hashem wanted me to, to receive a personal thank you from my grandfather above.
You never know how one mitzvah can shake the heavens!
That fateful summer day was laden with open miracles, and because of it, I am forever changed.
On that warm July morning, I planned to head to Deal, NJ to visit my sister-in-law who had given birth a few days before. Before I left Brooklyn, I took a handful of pennies out of my pocket and deposited them into the tiny wooden tzedakah box that I always keep in the glove compartment.
I finally got to Deal and had a pleasant visit with my sister-in-law and her newborn. I said goodbye, and drove all the way down Monmouth Drive to where it intersects with Ocean Avenue. I inched my way up ever so slowly, prepared to make a left turn, when just ahead, I noticed that a school bus was stopped, letting children off. There were a bunch of cars waiting behind the bus, and I thought that I was in the clear, as the cars would sit patiently until the bus began driving. Well, I was wrong, because as I made the left turn, one of the cars swerved around the bus and rammed directly into the passenger side door.
I clenched the steering wheel as my car was catapulted several feet into the air. The car flipped over four times and was completely out of control as it spun around in, what seemed like, a hundred different directions. My eyes were open the entire time, and I sensed the fragility of life as the world turned before me. Yet, even though I was teetering on the line between life and death, I was filled with a sense of calm throughout the accident. Something told me that I would be okay. I knew that I would survive.
Suddenly, everything came to an abrupt halt when the car touched down, halfway in the street and halfway on a freshly manicured lawn. In that exact moment, I felt something land on me. There it was, that tiny wooden tzedakah box where I had placed those cents just hours before, sitting right side up in my lap. I knew that Hashem was sending me a message loud and clear: “Tzedakah tatzil mimavet – Charity saves from death.”
My phone had flown out of the sunroof and every window in the car was shattered. My car was bent in half and completely totaled. Hatzalah arrived on the scene immediately, and a medic had to pull me out of the broken window. I had shards of glass all over my body, but I did not have even one small scratch. I was perfectly okay. Hashem had pulled me out of the clutches of death, and I truly believe that it was due to the merit of the tzedakah that I gave that morning.