This week I was on my way back from Vancouver, I had a stopover in Toronto for an hour and a half before heading out to Newark for my flight home. By accident, I had packed my tefilin in my checked bag, and low and behold, it was time to daven shacharit. I was stuck. I didn't see a Jew in sight and had no idea how I was going to daven without my tallit and tefilin.
I walked pass all of the departure gates at Toronto Airport looking for a religious looking Yid to ask if I could borrow talit and tefilin. Nothing, not a kippa in sight.I opened my laptop and started to answer some emails and said “gosh darnit, its time to daven!” and closed my laptop for one more scan of the departure gates for a pair of tefilin.
Maybe 5 or 6 gates away from me was a chasid who was talking with an airline rep and I waited patiently on the side until he finished his business. Once he finished talking, I walked up to him and asked him: “Excuse me, are you in a rush?”
The chasid replied “Why do you ask?”
I told the chasid that I packed my talit & tefilin in my checked bag and would be very grateful if I could borrow his to daven with.
He looked me over, up and down and said “I’m not in a rush anymore, I just missed my flight, and it must be for you.”
He looked me over again from head to toe (as if in wonder that this conversation was actually transpiring) . “It’s my zchut to be mishtatef in this mitzvah! My next flight is 4:30 pm, so I have plenty of time.”
Of course, I was very moved by the words of the chassid and how he saw the Yad Hashem in the fact that he just missed his flight – apparently for me.
I went to the side of a phonebooth and davened with great kavanah. I had a great davening. I was so happy that I was able to daven with talit and tefilin and that I absolutely made the day of this kind stranger.
Now hold on to your hats, men and women…
As soon as I finished davening and had wrapped up the tefilin and folded the talit, the airline rep came running over to the chassid and told him that there had been a cancellation on another flight and that if he hurried he could be on a plane to his destination (Cleveland) in 10-15 minutes.
This guy’s jaw dropped. He couldn't stop looking at me.
The less said the better, because this was a truly one in a lifetime experience where 2 people who had never met, and probably never would think they have much in common, came together, “by chance”, for half an hour to do a mitzvah. I was smiling all the way home to Israel. Pretty awesome.