The silver-colored station wagon was parked at a corner next
to the neighborhood grocery store. A few minutes before, Sam
Goldberg, a hearty fellow, had entered its doors. He bought a
quick breakfast which included a styrofoam cup of coffee and
was eager to start his day. He owned a dress shop which
required long hours of shopping in upper Manhattan and no
time to sit down properly to eat.
He inhaled the sweet aroma of the steaming coffee and sipped
the brew. The warm liquid invigorated him as it coursed
through his body, suffusing him with energy for the day.
A soft rap at the window jolted him out of his reverie. He
glanced at the window and smiled at the renowned Reb Shlomo,
a tzedoka collector. R' Shlomo seemed to have been
born for this occupation. He carried a maroon leather bag
that often contained thousands of dollars. R' Shlomo seemed
to have a special angel attending him, protecting him from
all evil. The money always seemed to be safe in R' Shlomo's
hands, and people trusted him that their charity donations
would be going to an excellent cause.
R' Shlomo was a favorite, welcome in every shul and
home. With a ready smile and a good word for everyone, he was
surrounded by friends wherever he went. His pockets
invariably contained a sweet for a child who told over a
chiddush learned in cheder and his light blue
eyes sparkled like the clear waters of a brook when he looked
and listened to you, and even more so, when he talked.
People were attracted to him by the small stories he told,
even though these usually demanded payment of sorts. This did
not deter them from crowding around him to catch every
R' Shlomo did not suffice with paltry sums. He collected for
a well-known Mesivta; his days and nights were spent in the
attempt to cover the utility bills and other expenses not
covered by tuition fees. This was R' Shlomo and his work. He
had an uncanny instinct of knowing when and where to knock,
at just the right moment.
"Gut morgen, Reb Yid," he greeted Sam. The driver
juggled the coffee in one hand while trying to pull open the
door peg with the other.
"Good morning to you! What a pleasure, what a zechus
to have you join me for breakfast!" He held out the bag of
Danishes, but R' Shlomo had already begun unraveling one of
his tales. Sam anticipated the punch, or pinch, and smiled as
he removed a thick wad of bills from his pocket and handed it
to R' Shlomo. He hadn't donated to the Mesivta for a
Suddenly he was fumbling at the door handle, his knuckles
turning white. His face paled at a scene in his side mirror
and he flung the door open.
R' Shlomo couldn't understand what had happened. People
rarely interrupted him in the middle of a story. What was the
R' Shlomo didn't even have a chance to thank his benefactor.
Sam had leaped out of the car, spilling the remnants of his
coffee onto the curb, and was running down the block. He must
have seen something awful.
Panting and sweating from exertion and fright, Sam finally
reached the scene he had beheld in the car mirror. His own
son Yitzy lay sprawled on the street, his red hair covered
with bright blood, a gruesome sight. Within moments, Hatzola
men were already on the scene, having been contacted by some
quick-thinking spectator. The driver of the green sports car
was standing by, afraid to look, his face buried in his
hands. R' Shlomo had also arrived on the scene.
"The boy's O.K.," the paramedics reassured the three men. A
sheer miracle, as he had been hurled high into the air, had
sailed a few yards before landing with a dull thud on the
sidewalk. The entire episode ended with nineteen stitches on
his head. That was all.
Sam drove the boy to the emergency ward with the reassurance
of the Hatzola men that he would be alright. Meanwhile, R'
Shlomo assured his benefactor that he would call the Goldberg
home and break the bad-and-good news carefully.
It took several rings before Chana, a competent housewife,
answered the shrill ring of the phone. Her heavy-duty mixer
made it almost impossible to hear. She dipped a spoon into
the pink frosting she was making for Yitzy's birthday cake,
took a quick lick, and then shut it off and picked up the
"Hello, this is R' Shlomo..."
"Are you looking for my husband? He's gone already."
"No," replied R' Shlomo in what he hoped was a reassuring
voice. "It's you I'm looking for. Please sit down. Everything
is O.K. but your son had to be taken to the hospital for a
A thousand questions raced through her mind but she couldn't
"Hello, are you with me?" She grunted weakly, thanked him for
calling and confirmed the name of the hospital so she could
R' Shlomo hung up the heavy black receiver in the phone
booth. He didn't like this kind of job. His line was
squeezing smiles out of people, and children. He wiped his
brow and mused over the strange events.
"Unbelievable!" he suddenly snapped his fingers in excitement
as it suddenly struck him. At the very moment that the child
had been crossing the street, the father had handed him the
large sum of money for the yeshiva. It must have been that
act that had spared the boy from no more than some stitches
when he could easily have been... No, he didn't want to think
A world run like clockwork, R' Shlomo thought. Every event
fitting into a Divine scheme like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. No
detail is superfluous; every piece has its special place and
Boy, would he have a story to tell people, now! A true