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Blessings in Disguise

Elky Pascal

Did your life ever take an unexpected nosedive — that then turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

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GRATITUDE ATTITUDE Sometimes I pause and say to Hashem, “Thank You for pulling me through. Thank You for giving me the coping skills to face the challenges of my life with a smile and a positive attitude. Thank You for making me a capable person”

You hit rock bottom. It was the day you almost gave up… but then didn’t. Did your life ever take a nosedive you weren’t expecting — and then turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you?

Listen to these courageous women reflect upon their teen years and how they are now able to recognize the tremendous blessings they experienced… in disguise.

My New School

by Chana Rochel*

I will never forget the day I was kicked out of elementary school. It was probably the hardest day of my childhood. (Notice that I say hard; not bad.) See, I totally didn’t see it coming. I was a good kid who followed the rules. Most of my teachers even liked me! Then came The Incident. Basically, I was accused of cheating in a very big way. I was framed. So although I was totally innocent, the school didn’t believe me and decided to kick me out.

On a chilly winter afternoon, I suddenly found myself at home, with no school to attend. I’ve worked hard to forget the subsequent misery of the next few days. But then a miracle happened. My parents were desperate to get me into school. They saw that each passing day was torturing me and they were scared I’d snap if they didn’t find me a school. So they connected with community leaders, and even rabbanim, though our family was pretty secular. One thing led to another and they were eventually connected to an incredible rav who had a fire for Yiddishkeit and a very large heart. He truly felt my pain and was determined to help.

As the rav talked to us, he made a radical suggestion. Was there any way I’d consider going to a religious school? It would definitely entail a lifestyle adjustment — for both me and my parents — but we ultimately agreed. Within a short while I was registered in a frum school. I loved it and really thrived over the years. By the time I went to a top-notch seminary in Eretz Yisrael, no one would have ever dreamed that I only became frum in eighth grade.

There are times I think back to the day I was kicked out of school and my eyes once again glisten with tears — tears of gratitude. If not for that painful incident, where would I, my parents, and my wonderful frum children be today?


by Brocha

Truth be told, I feel that everything I went through in my childhood, until I was 18, was very difficult. In hindsight, some 30 years later, of course I see the Yad Hashem in everything. But this story showed me Hashem had always been there, by my side, listening and just waiting for the right time. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands of teens who have major challenges in their lives. I beseech them not to give up! It is imperative that you believe, with your full heart, that hakol bidei Shamayim — that everything is bashert. While I have to leave out many details to protect the privacy of those involved, here is my story.

It was Chol Hamoed Pesach. My sister and I were away for the first days of Pesach, each of us at different places. We arranged to meet back at home for Chol Hamoed and then we’d go away again for the second days. When we arrived, we called for a pick-up from the bus stop and were told we weren’t allowed back into our home (I use the term “home” loosely). Needless to say we were shocked. While we knew we weren’t welcome at home for Yom Tov (for various complex reasons), Chol Hamoed wasn’t treated as a Yom Tov in our household, so we didn’t think we’d have a problem. But we did.

One day it hit me. Where did my coping skills come from? They came from my teen years. However tumultuous those years were, and I’m not taking away from how hard they actually were, those were the years that molded me into who I am today

I called my boss and asked if there was someone available to pick us up and drop us off at home. (You may wonder why I didn’t call any other family members first. I did. They refused to help us.) My boss sent one of his sons to drive me and my sister home. When we arrived, we were told implicitly that we couldn’t come in. My boss’s son tried to fight on our behalf but he met with zero success. He took us back to his parents’ house. After much deliberation, it was decided the police had to be called. Police officers came to my boss’s home, listened to our story, and then took us with him back to the precinct. In the end, even after all this, when we finally did get back home, we weren’t let inside until we had a meeting with our grandparents.

I felt awful when I was kicked out of my home; I felt like my world was collapsing. In reality, though, it was a blessing in disguise because this was the catalyst for my boss, Mr. S, to let me live in his home.

When Mr. S came to pick me up, he offered me a room in his house, free of charge. He and his wife never took a dime from me. I was never made to feel like an outsider. I was treated like one of the family from the minute I walked through their door. And I walked out just a year and a half later to my wedding.

That was almost 28 years ago. I am, baruch Hashem, leading a beautiful life. And I have but one “person” to thank for it all... Hashem. He orchestrates everything according to His Will. We must believe that everything He does is for the good. I know what a lot of teens are going through today and it pains me, literally breaks my heart because once upon a time, I was walking in your shoes. So trust me when I say, you’re not alone and you can survive this. I did.

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