An Israeli Miracle
STYLE Magazine

An Israeli Miracle

Two people that were unsure they would ever find love, found it when they least expected.

It’s a mitzvah to yourself if you remain joyous without being angry: when you are patient, when you overcome a desire, and especially when you avoid criticizing another person. If you can start that way, the by-product of helping others will improve your spirit. You will look away from your own needs and desires and look toward helping others. Do a mitzvah with a happy heart.

There are many inspiring Jewish stories, and this is just one of them — a story not only true, but one I had a small part in. Before I married my wife, I was living in Columbus, Ohio, with Marvin, a lawyer who taught legal economics at Ohio State University. Marvin was then 32 years old and had never married. He felt that he was too old for the available women in their twenties, and so believed that he would never be able to find a partner because of his age.

One Shabbos morning, we both felt the need to go to a synagogue, though we were not regular members there. We decided to go to a major Conservative synagogue in the community. After the service was over, we met the rabbi, and he introduced us to a married couple then in their mid-fifties. They happened to be Israelis and asked if one of us could do a mitzvah for them. We were interested. The husband then told us about their 18-year-old daughter. Dalia, it turned out, was still in Israel and about to be drafted into the Israeli army. Being only 18, she was not interested in joining the IDF. Her parents were trying to get her to come to the U.S. and avoid being drafted. The parents said we could do a mitzvah if one of us agreed to sign a betrothal document that said that either Marvin or I were to be married to their daughter. A married woman, it was said, could avoid the IDF.

A betrothal document is a legal document, and it is not a trivial matter. I was dating Judy, the woman I eventually married, and did not want to undermine that relationship, so I could not fulfill the couple’s request. On the other hand, Marvin had no such commitments, and as a lawyer he could deal with any legal issues that might arise. So, Marvin agreed to sign the document without any thought other than doing a good deed. He said to the parents that he was not married and thought he never would be. He would just be doing them a favor, so he signed the document.

A few months later, the daughter arrived in Columbus, and Marvin was invited to the parents’ home. They wanted to thank him. Marvin came back to our apartment in love. The girl felt the same about Marvin. It was love at first sight. They married six months later. This is a perfect example of a mitzvah that echoed the famous Jewish proverb, “One good deed leads to another.” In helping others, you often end up helping yourself, and that, in turn, makes you happy.

This is one of the many stories in my new book, “If Not Now, When?” It is about character improvement based on Jewish ethics, and is now available on Amazon.

read more: