The Creator's love for His People isn't statistical

When you need G-d's help but feel the situation somehow precludes the possibility, remember the story of the old grandmother. Commentary

Mordechai Sones,

Bus driver
Bus driver
iStock

A veteran bus driver relates:

It was right after the establishment of Ashdod, which was at that time sandy desert and wilderness.

The bus line I drove started in the morning in Ashdod and took a few haredim who lived in Ashdod and worked in Bnei Brak, and from there the line continued to Haifa. In the afternoon, on my way back, I would return the passengers from Bnei Brak to Ashdod. This line had regular passengers and very fixed stations.

One morning a religious soldier boarded the bus and asked if I was passing through Nir Galim.

Nir Galim is a moshav near Ashdod, just after the industrial zone. I answered yes.

"Can you stop for me there?"

For a second I thought, "I don't have a station there," but after a moment I said to myself, "Do a favor for the soldier," and I replied "with joy."

When I arrived at Nir Galim and let the soldier off at the station he needed, an old woman got up at the bus stop and asked me "Are you going to Haifa?"

"Yes," I replied, surprised, because this wasn't a station where I was supposed to stop...

"Beautiful," she said, "I'll bring the bags." Before I could respond, she started dragging many large baskets from the station, until a few kollel students went down to help her load them onto the bus. They even cleared the chair next to the driver.

After getting organized with the many baskets and settling down safely, I started the bus and got out onto the main road, a question gnawing at my head: "Grandma," I asked, "Why did you wait at that station?"

"What do you mean?" she replied in amazement, "It's a station, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's a station, but who told you there's a bus going to Haifa?"

"No one," she replies, and I don't understand.

"So why did you stand there if you didn't know a bus would come to Haifa?"

"Because this is the only station there is," she answered patiently as though I were slow to comprehend, "where should I go?"

"Yes," I say again, explaining myself: "But at the station you were standing no bus should have stopped to Haifa... Actually, even if you'd have waited at that station until night, there wouldn't be a bus to Haifa."

"But here you are," she answers logically.

"Yes," I admit, "but I shouldn't have stopped at that station. I happened to pick up a soldier and if I hadn't stopped what would you do?"

"Wait for another bus," she replies with the height of reason.

There's still something I don't understand and I insist: "But he wouldn't have stopped for you because at that station there's no stop for the bus to Haifa."

"But you stopped, right?"

"Yes," I admit, surprised at the logic and the reality in which the events happened, and I continued: "Still, what were you thinking when you went to a station where there was no stop for the Haifa bus?"

"I needed to go to Haifa," she explains to me simply. "They told me to go to the station opposite across the road, where there's a bus to Ashdod; 'Go to Ashdod and from there take a bus to Haifa.'

"I don't have the strength to go to the other side of the road with all my baskets, and I don't have the strength to put all the baskets on the Ashdod bus, and then get off, wait at the bus stop, and go up again with all the baskets onto the Haifa bus, so I asked Him to bring me the bus to Haifa now, here, to the nearest station."

"Well ..." I say.

"What 'well'? You see with your own eyes! I asked and He brought me the Haifa bus right to the station."

"Grandma," I asked excitedly, when I realized a great miracle just took place before my eyes - and I took a good part in it - "How did you ask?"

She doesn't understand my insistence on getting into the smallest details but she cooperates, and all the passengers listen in silence and amazement at the miraculous personal providence they just witnessed. They were all listening attentively to the old woman's words.

"I said - 'Master of the Universe, I'm old and weak and tired; please do me a favor and bring me the bus to Haifa here,' that's all..."

That's all! Then I understood that in order to pray there's no need for a prayer book, there's no need for a cantor, or even a synagogue. You just have to turn to the Creator and ask.

Sometimes we gauge our chances of success according to statistical probability because we've been trained to think like the bus driver, not the old woman. Who taught us to think that way? "There's no chance!" But did you know that "statistics" originated not in the hard sciences but in the soft social ones? The late Lucy Gwin, writing on the history of eugenics, wrote of the statistics field, "It didn't separate itself from eugenics to become a math-dependent specialty until 1933, and this was a hotly-contested divorce."

The word statistics originated in the German statistisch, 'state arithmetic' - science dealing with data about the condition of the state. Statistics was to serve eugenics as the bureaucrat's primary tool to measure our fitness or unfitness according to another contrivance of theirs we've all come to accept as something that actually exists: "normal". Eugenics was the science of human improvement. "Normal" was its measuring stick. Normal would be the measure of eugenic fitness.

So when you need G-d's help but feel the situation somehow precludes the possibility, remember: The Creator's love for His People isn't statistical.




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