The yahrzeit candle is customarily lit during the week of shiva (or mourning). It is also lit at sundown on the eve of the yahrzeit (anniversary of a death). That night she asked husband Gil to drive her to Sav-On in the Orthodox Jewish section of Miami. Although stores specializing in religious items had closed, she hoped to find a candle at the drugstore. While she waited in the car, Gil entered the store to look.
Gil spotted a young couple and asked for help. The man, a rabbi, wore a black hat with payos (sidelocks worn by some Orthodox Jewish men based on the Biblical injunction against shaving the “corners” of one’s head). The rabbi and his wife led Gil to the section he sought. Gil purchased the candle. He walked out of the store with the couple and introduced them to Sandy.
Sandy told the rabbi how sorry she was to be late in lighting the candle for her father. The rabbi said, “It’s not the candle or the timing that matters. What matters is that you’re thinking about him.”
Sandy spoke to the couple for several minutes. She discovered that the rabbi’s wife had grown up in Oak Park, Michigan. Sandy did, too. The rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife) lived with her grandmother on Moritz, the same street where Sandy lived as a child. Learning the address, Sandy realized this stranger she’d just met, maybe half her age, had lived next door to her childhood home.
“Hearing the rabbi’s advice made me feel better. Hearing this amazing coincidence, even better,” Sandy says. “I felt as though I had just run down the street to borrow a candle from my neighbor.”
Driving off, Sandy had an urge to thank the couple for being so gracious and bringing her such consolation. She and Gil drove down the street seeking them. They were nowhere to be found.
Angels have a way of appearing when we need them. And, just as quickly, disappearing.
(Have you had an encounter with angels? Please share your stories with me.)