Encounters With Angels
by Chana Klein
It was 20 years since Yaakov had seen his brother Esav. He was scared. He sent angels, who are also called
messengers, to prepare the way for him. In the Torah writings we find angels of different names and different
roles. We read of the angel Gabriel and the angel Michael in the Book of Daniel. Even the Satan is known as an
angel who serves God by giving man challenges. On Friday night we sing Shalom Aleichem to greet angels.
I have experienced and heard of others who have also had people show up in their lives to play the role of an angel, a messenger. Perhaps those people really are angels. I share with you some stories of angels who have shown up in my life when I needed them, only to disappear from the face of the earth when I wanted to say thank you.
When my son, Brett, was entering the 2nd grade, I enrolled him in a day camp program. We had been kicked out of so many places because of his illness. So I did not tell anyone in the camp that Brett was epileptic for fear of his again being discriminated against. During that summer, I met Pam, an elegant looking, wealthy woman, at a women's group. We became fast friends talking often, but for only a period of a few weeks. I remember her calling me, crying one morning that she smashed her Rolls Royce into her Ferrari as she was backing up into her driveway. She seemed really upset. Her life seemed to be such a great contrast to mine. But Pam came into my life for just a few weeks, a few very important weeks.
Pam called me on another day. She could hardly talk. Through several gasps and cries, she shared that her sweet little 7-year-old nephew was epileptic. He had been sitting on the side of the pool and apparently, had a seizure, and died in her pool as a result of the seizure. Brett was also seven years old and epileptic. And he was in the camp pool every day. I called Dr. Mentakis, our pediatric neurologist. "Is it dangerous for Brett to be in a pool? Could he die if he has a seizure there? Somehow, I figured that because Brett usually kept moving when he had a seizure, he wouldn't drown. Dr. Mentakis told me that, yes, he would most likely die if he had a seizure in the water.
I notified the camp staff of the danger for Brett and for the necessary close supervision. From then on, when Brett went swimming, there was someone from our family in the camp with him, watching him swim. Pam's call alerted me to what I needed to know. It probably saved Brett's life in some way. After that, I tried calling Pam. There was never an answer. I never heard from her again. I never again saw her at a meeting. I wondered if she had shown up in my life for that specific reason, only to disappear like the angels in the Torah.
There was another woman who played a very great role in the direction of Brett's life and also disappeared from any contact when I called to say thank you. Was she really an angel, as well? As Brett reached the end of sixth grade, he began to recover. He tried to participate in the regular activities that children his age do. We met rejection everywhere we turned. People feared having a child in their midst who had been so ill. One of those rejections came from the Hebrew school of the synagogue we had attended. When Brett had been in and out of consciousness and I would wait outside the classroom for him, there were no complaints about his trying to participate. Now, when he was much better, I read in the weekly bulletin that Brett would have to go to a different school, one for special education students. That was the first I had heard about it.
Brett was devastated when he heard about it. That Shabbos Brett spoke to each of the people in shul whom he loved, like the cantor, and asked if each would still be his friend. He was so concerned that now people would not like him. That Shabbos, I didn't go to the services in the shul. Rather, I attended an OA meeting. I was upset and spoke about how devastated I was about the situation.
A middle aged woman about 5'4", thinning dark hair, pale skin, wearing a long sweater, approached me after the meeting. I had the bulletin with me. She asked if she could see it. She said she was appalled that they would write that. She said my story disturbed her greatly. Then, she told me that she is the founder and president of the Handicapped Association of another county. I had never seen her at a meeting before that day. But she took on resolving this situation. She called the rabbi. She spoke with the president of the Board of Directors. She attended a meeting of the Board of Education. To make a long story short, Brett was allowed to stay in the Hebrew School and he did well there. I wasted no time in trying to call this woman whose name I don't even remember. But her phone number was no longer in service. Recently, I tried to find the name of the Handicapped Association that she said she founded. It was not on the web. I don't really know who she was, other than the fact that she may have been one of those angels who stepped into our lives exactly when we needed, and for just long enough to help us.
Sometimes angels are real people whom we know. When we applied for Brett to participate in the town Little League, we were told that they had no more room. Brett's father had been a coach in the league and knew that first, they see how many kids they get, and then they form the teams. No one ever gets left out. But we had to fight to get him in. No one would help us ... until we called the wonderful mayor of New Milford. She told them that she would close down the whole league if Brett were not allowed to play. An hour later Brett's new little league coach called to tell him where and when practice would be.
There are angels in our lives. There are the messengers from Heaven and sometimes it is a real person who takes on the mission as if s/he were an angel. We each have met them. Sometimes we are one of them. I believe we have all had their assistance at some time. There are even angels who are adversaries. Our struggle with them makes us more holy as did Yaakov's struggle with Esav's angel. Seeing it that way, it is possible that at times even our enemies may be our angels.
The Talmud tells us that there are angels who have only one mission. Their missions are often their names. We probably do not know all of the names or all of the missions possible for an angel. It says that angels often don't last long enough for their names to warrant mention. There are also the angels who were created during the Six Days of Creation and remain in existence to this day. Is that what happened to Brett and me? Were our experiences with these wonderful people really encounters with angels? I may never know for sure. But that does not diminish the help that we have received.
Maybe even you are someone's angel.
Copyright © 2010 COPYRIGHT CHANA KLEIN. All rights reserved.
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