The Shabbat Miracle

    December 1998         
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The Miracle that Happened to Me Because of the Shabbat

By Alan Silver

In February this year, one Sabbath night my hardware store in the Telzstone community near Jerusalem, was broken into. During Sabbath morning service in the synagogue, a neighbor's son came over to me and informed me that my alarm had gone off three times the previous night. The moment he mentioned the word three times I knew in my heart the worst had happened. I continued praying the morning service and did not leave the synagogue until the end of the service. I did not go out immediately and check the shop as I realized there was nothing I could do about it while it was Sabbath, so I left it. After the morning service, I went onto my usual Sabbath morning class of learning.

After the learning class, I decided on the way home, to pass the shop and see if anything had really happened. As soon as I approached the front door of the shop, I could see that it had been opened, by the fact that papers that I knew where supposed to be inside the shop were scattered outside. My worst fears had been confirmed.

As I stood close to the closed door, I could hear the wind whistling inside. A sound I had never heard before in the shop. The windows must have been opened. I went around to see what things looked like from the other side but found the windows closed and everything intact. Everything seemed in order from this side.

I went around back to the front door and decided to try and look in and see what things looked like inside. I was nervous that I would set the alarm off, as it worked with eye sensors, and being Sabbath I was scared of desecrating Sabbath. But I also knew that if I pushed the door open very slowly, and slightly, I would not set it off.

I leaned carefully against the door and just opened it enough to see inside. No computer. No fax machine. No cash register. And that's only what I could see. My heart sank. All my accounts were on the computer. I had a backup of the debtors but all my correspondences and creditors accounts were not backed up. The cash register was only 2 months old. I had made only one payment on it. The fax machine was not mine. It was donated to me to be used as a 'fax g'mach' (a free loan usage for people that don't have faxes could send and receive faxes at cost price).

I decided to close the door and go home and try as best as I could, to enjoy the rest of Sabbath. By this time my wife had been informed of what had happened and had come with my two boys to see what had happened. I told them to turn around and that we would all go home to eat cholent (the traditional meal served on the Sabbath) and sing songs of the Sabbath. I was determined that this would not interfere with my enjoyment of Sabbath.

We went home and had our Sabbath lunch meal with cholent, Sabbath songs and we spoke of the deeper meanings in the Torah. Afterwards we retired for our afternoon nap, and I surprisingly slept very well. I prayed the afternoon service, we ate the third meal and I went off to pray the evening service to see Sabbath leave. Afterwards I went straight home and made havdala.(the service to formally end the Sabbath). Our havdala is usually quite long and we usually sing and say special prayers for the coming week. We did not change anything, everything was just as normal. I finally finished havdala and the reality started to hit me. What do I do next?

I reached for the phone and said a short prayer asking for help for the week to come. I phoned the police and reported the robbery. They said that they would be there in 10 minutes from Beit Shemesh.

I phoned my Mother and did not have the heart to tell her anything as I knew that she knew that I did not have insurance coverage on the shop. After I put down the phone I made my way to the shop. As I approached the Telzstone entrance, the police vehicle entered Telzstone and I ran after him and flagged him down. I took the two policemen to the shop.

One policeman pushed the front door open and went inside. I expected the alarm to go off but there was silence. I tried to switch the lights on but there was no electricity. I knew that the alarm had a reserve power supply and that the alarm should have gone off anyway, but there was still silence. In the light of the flashlight of the policeman we saw that the robbers had destroyed the alarm and in the process had short-circuited the electricity. The place was a total mess. Everything was just thrown on the floor and had been trampled on. I then noticed that they had come in through the door as the doorframe had been split.

We walked around pushing our way through the goods that had been thrown on the floor and I pointed out that my two key cutting machines were missing, electric kettles, electric drills, and a show stand full of expensive taps (faucets) as well as household goods among other things.

The police told me not to touch anything, as they would like the fingerprint guys to try find some clues. By this time a few of the neighbours had gathered outside the store. When the police and I walked out of the store the police asked the neighbours if they had not heard the alarm go off? One neighbour, who had a couple of weeks before given birth, said she heard it twice but did not think of waking her husband as there was nothing they could do anyway. Being Sabbath, there was little she could do. Only if it was a matter that was directly life threatening could she desecrate the Sabbath. In any case once or twice previously the alarm had gone off in the middle of the night. The policeman got very upset with her and a couple of others that had said that they had also heard the alarm go off and they did nothing. He really told them off telling them that they did not care about me and if they had called them (the police) they would have caught them. He did not accept the answer that it was Sabbath and they were not prepared to desecrate it in a situation of doubt.

The police took me into their van and took a statement from me about more or less what was missing. They then told me not to touch anything until the fingerprint squad arrives. I asked what chance there was of catching the thieves and recovering my goods, and I was told no chance, as 24 hours had already passed (trying also to blame the neighbours for not caring about me).

They went off, and I was left with my shop that had no alarm and a broken front door. What should I do now? A few friends had gathered at the shop by now and among them were a couple of Hassidim (devout Jews) who lived up the hill and were regular customers. They on the spot told me not to worry about the shop, as they would organize a group of boys to learn all night outside my shop keeping guard. A half-hour later the first group of boys arrived with flashlights and books to start doing guard duty. They were dressed in heavy coats because of the cold winter. I went home and brought them a flask of hot water for tea and coffee and a couple packets of biscuits. They then forced me to go home and reassured me there was nothing to worry about. They insisted I sleep as the following day would be a difficult one and I needed the energy.

I went home and tried to sleep. I tossed and turned all night and as the night got later it got colder and I felt so sorry for the boys outside the shop.

In the morning I got up and prayed early ate quickly and went to the shop at about eight o'clock. I pushed the door open again and went inside while being careful not to touch anything. I noticed that the telephone had been disconnected. When the robbers had taken my computer they had to disconnect the electrical and telephone connections. I took the telephone plug and replugged it in the wall. At least to have some sort of communication and in case someone wanted to contact me. I took a chair and sat outside the shop thinking over the situation.

Suddenly the phone rang and I answered. It was a man who identified himself as Ofir from 'Mateh Binyamin' army base. He asked me if my cash register was missing. My heart missed a beat. "Yes", I answered with a lot of hope starting to rise. He asked me if there was anything else missing? I told him my computer and he replied that he had found that too. I then mentioned the fax, and he said that they had also had found it. He asked me what model and I answered "Brother". He confirmed it and then I then told him that my two key cutting machines were missing. I then heard him shout, " Haim all this belongs to Kolbo Alan". My heart was pounding and I was still in shock. My goods had been found. A miracle!

Ofir gave me his cellular phone number and asked me to contact him later after more investigation had been done. I put the phone down and stood in total shock trying to understand just what I had been through. I ran upstairs to my neighbour, Mrs. Moore and told her what had just happened. She too could not believe it; personal supreme supervision from heaven.

I called Ofir later to get more details about how to get my goods back and he told me to be in touch later. I also asked him for more details as to what really happened. The story went like this.

This Arab had been a wanted terrorist by the secret services. He had been on the run for about a year and had been involved in a terrorist attack near Telzstone about six months earlier. The security services were on high alert for terror attacks in the near future. That Saturday night they 'suddenly' received information as to his whereabouts. The house he was in was in the Palestinian Authority area and was tricky to get there. A large group of soldiers were sent out in the middle of the night to capture him for interrogation. They stormed the house where he was and they captured him. The troops then started to search the house for explosives and in one of the rooms they came across my goods. They suspected that these were stolen goods and decided to take them back with them to their base. The troops had returned on foot and in the light drizzle, and had to carry the goods and computer etc. a few kilometers until they got to their vehicles.

At the base they tried to identify the goods and the only way was through the cash register which printed out my name and phone number with every receipt. Here was another miracle. A month earlier my old cash register started to sporadically give wrong totals. I consulted a cash register maintenance company and he told me that there was no guarantee that they could fix it. He advised me to get a new one. My old register did not print out my name on the receipts. If I had not bought a new machine the troops would not have been able to link my goods to me. He then told me to come on Tuesday to the Beit El army base to pick up the goods.

It was incredible how everything had worked out. This dangerous terrorist running around our neighbourhood armed and dangerous. The alarm of the shop goes off, and no one practically hears it. If someone had intervened, the terrorists would have killed him.

Tuesday I went off to the Beit El army base and Ofir was there to meet me. He told me how lucky I was, as recovery of stolen goods just does not happen. I didn't need reassuring. Pictures were taken of me standing next to the 'stolen goods' and I told them my side of the story as well. Ofir then told me that they were very excited to have caught him on the criminal charge as the problem of holding terrorists was that they are exchanged with every new deal of the 'peace process'.

This guy was only going to be charged criminally and the book was going to be thrown at him. He was very happy.

My business has and will always be run on Torah guidelines, a lot of goodwill and kindness. I wish to thank the Creator of the World for his help and guidance throughout my life and hope I will be able to always continue to live and bring up my children according to His Torah.

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