A Minyan Miracle

Over the course of this journey, I’m constantly reminded that when all hope seems lost, Hashem always extends his helping hand!

Take this Thursday afternoon for example. I had yahrzeit (yearly memorial day for a loved one) for my beloved mother. The Jewish day begins at nightfall – not the following morning. Which means my yahrzeit began Wednesday night. It is the obligation of a son to say Kaddish for the three prayers of the day.

Here’s what happened Wednesday night. I made sure to organize the arduous task of putting on my coat (living in Ottawa, a frequent occurrence) at the correct time, i.e., not too early so that I wouldn’t have to wait outside in the bitter cold, and not too late so I wouldn’t miss the beginning of services, thereby necessitating a wait outside until the end of services.

Thinking that the start time was 6:30 PM, I arrived at 6:28 PM, not too early and not too late. Unfortunately, the start time was 6:15 PM. So there I was, freezing outside while watching the service progress without me.

My first of three opportunities went bust.

My next opportunity would be mincha (the afternoon prayer).CBTA, the shul near my home, does not offer mincha in the winter months. So that was not an option.

Another option was praying at a local school. Although it was further and I would have to arrange for transportation, it was my next best option.

Guess what? The elevator at the school broke down one hour before start time.

Another bust….

I racked my brains – was this a lost cause? What could I do, where could I turn? Would this have to be a case of “onais” (absolvement due to unavoidable circumstances)?

All roads for catching mincha seemed to lead to nowhere.…

Shifting gears, I had about an hour until an accessible taxi was scheduled to come and take me to my Torah High class. I began reviewing in my mind my lesson plans for the day.…

Suddenly, a burst of inspiration!

Outlandish as it seemed, maybe I could pull a minyan together at my Torah High class?

Not knowing whether they were 10 boys in the class, I somewhat frantically called my co-teacher.

Regretfully, he told me that there were only a few boys expected that day.

This was my moment. I exercised everything under my control. There were no foreseeable avenues for success.

So once again, I relinquished all control to Hashem. I did what I could, and all I could do was hope for the best!

My driver opened the door to Torah High.

I was astonished to find a full classroom, containing quite a few boys! Counting off, we discovered we were 1 short!

First explaining what yarzeit and kaddish mean, I appraised my students of the stressful situation.

We all scratched our heads – we were so close, yet so far!

Suddenly, one of my students whipped out her cell phone and triumphantly shot her arm into the air!! Her brother was still at school (the regular public school that most of my students attend) – she was sure she could ask him to run over! Also a student at Torah High, he had stayed back in school to finish off some things.

What we were envisioning would be a first for Torah High Ottawa!

I finished my class 15 minutes early to teach my students a lesson I hope they will remember for a very long time.

When all else fails, and you feel helpless, with nowhere to turn, don’t ever give up! As long as your mind processes – you can ALWAYS turn to your loving father in heaven!


  1. You express yourself beautifully, Yehudah! Just emphasizes how fortunate Becky and I are that we can stand by our parents’ graves and pray for them every yahrzeit without much effort on our part. About the Kaddish, our spouses say it for us, and I know how important you feel that duty is so I appreciate the overwhelming effort you invested to fulfill that duty. I’m sure the class also learned an important message. Love, judy

    1. Yes, Judy. It was extremely gratifying to pull that minyan together – extremely with my students in public high school!

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