I was all set to go this morning; a beautiful day for a bike ride to work. Well, ok, 33 mph gusts and roads still damp from yesterday's tornado watch weather could make things a bit dicey; that's part of the excitement of life, right? I said good-bye to my wife, carried my bike down to the sidewalk, swung my leg over, pressed down on the peddle... and fell over. Mercifully it was only witnessed by one neighbor; still quite embarrassing. My embarrassment changed to both relief and annoyance, though, as I looked down and saw that my front tire was flat. So that's why the bike slipped from under me! (Hence, no more embarrassment.) Ah; so I am not loosing my sense of balance. (Hence the relief.) Now I had to take the bus/train to work. (Hence the annoyance.)
It's not even a good hashgacha story. What am I going to say? "Wow! The streets were slippery and it was really windy! HaShem must have been saving me from an accident!" Yeah; right. Last night, on the other hand...
I had caught a ride with good friends to the Telshe dinner. I don't usually go to dinners, but one of the honorees was R' Mannes. R' Mannes learned Masechta Shabbos with me for 10 years. It should have only taken a year or two; the extra time was due to his patience in teaching me how to learn. So here we were, three people who don't go to dinners driving downtown to go to a dinner only out of hakaras hatov and kavod haTorah. We were discussing divrei Torah. This was a real mitzvah mobile! I saw a car passing us on the right going very fast as we were going through the dog-leg Lake Shore Drive makes entering downtown. The other car went up onto two wheels as it hit the concrete barrier, then came around in front of us; still up on two wheels and looking for all the world that it is going to continue rolling over. My friend had managed to slow down and turn to the left. Our right front bumper "tapped" his left front wheel well; tapped just hard enough to prevent the car from rolling over. His car came to a stop just in front of us; driver completely uninjured, car driveable. Our car suffered only a cracked right headlight and were less than a half hour late to the dinner. If you had seen this in a movie you would have wondered how much was stunt driving and how much was CGI.
Why did we have a near accident? We are going to to a mitzvah, we were discussing divrei Torah. Shouldn't we have been protected? I think that is the wrong way to look at it. HaShem runs the world; oodles and oodles of stuff is going on behind the scenes. In this case, perhaps in z'chus of our going to express hakaras hatov, perhaps in z'chus of going to m'chabed Torah, perhaps in the z'chus of learning, perhaps in the z'chus of all three... HaShem allowed us to witness an act of hashgacha executed with extreme precision.
Like any good action scene, it ended with a laugh. The goy who was a pawn in the whole charade looked at me an said, "Oh voh!" My quizzical look prompted him to say, "Isn't that what you people say? Oh voh?" "Oy vei"; I corrected. "Oy vei!"; he exclaimed with a grin.