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‘I’ve Got Your Name on My Kitchen Cabinet’: The Remarkable Encounter One Rabbi Says Shows God ‘Is Behind the Events We Call Coincidence’

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"When you realize that someone prays for you, it makes the heart very, very warm."

Image source: YouTube

A Los Angeles rabbi shared the inspirational story of how his aunt - through a series of ostensible coincidences - met the Israeli soldier whose name she was given by a Jewish group to add to her daily prayers during last summer’s Gaza conflict.

In a video message for the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Yoel Gold said the story is a reminder that it’s actually God who “is behind the events we call coincidence, accidents or chance.”

Gold said that his aunt Betsy and uncle Simon visited Israel recently, where they made an impromptu trip to a restaurant in Herzliya outside Tel Aviv.

They were seated downstairs, but then asked to be moved upstairs so they could see the view.

Betsy – whose last name wasn’t specified – recalled that upstairs, they were assigned a new waiter who told them about the dinner specials. As he walked away, he turned around and said, “By the way if you need anything my name is Barak.”

“I immediately got some kind of a feeling in me. … I said [to my husband], ‘We have to know his mom’s name,’” Betsy said.

Her husband asked the waiter if his mother’s name was Orna. It was.

“He said it and I didn’t process it. It was like, you see these stories that you don’t hear what he’s saying and you’re like ‘what?’ And that was how I felt,” Betsy said.

When she regained her wits, the aunt asked her waiter, “Did you by any chance fight last summer in the war with Gaza, Operation Protective Edge?”

Barak answered, “Yeah, how did you know?”

Betsy said, “I’ve got your name on my kitchen cabinet.”

In the rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah video, she explained that there was a telephone number people could call during the Israel-Hamas conflict last year to get the name of an Israeli soldier to pray for.

Jews traditionally pray for the well-being and health of others by invoking their first name, then “son of” and then fill-in their mother’s first name.

“The name she got was Barak son of Orna, and that’s my name,” Barak said in the video.

Two weeks before her Israel trip several months ago, Betsy once again noticed Barak’s name on her cabinet, so again she prayed for him specifically with the thought, “I don’t even know if he’s alive. It would be nice to meet him and see how he’s doing.”

Listing all the events that brought her to meet Barak in person – visiting Israel, traveling to Herzliya, choosing that restaurant, switching tables – Betsy said, “It was just a powerful message to me that Hashem [God] is right there.”

Barak was also incredibly moved to know a woman thousands of miles away in California was praying for him.

“Betsy pray for me to come back home safe, and I came back home safe. When you realize that someone prays for you, it makes the heart very, very warm,” Barak said.

The meeting moved him to start making room for prayer in his daily life, starting with putting on “tefillin” – leather boxes filled with quotes from scripture known as phylacteries - which religious Jewish men wear during morning prayers. The tradition of placing a reminder of God’s words between the eyes and on the arm is referenced several times in the Torah including in Deuteronomy 6:8, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

“I felt that this is a mark from God or something. This was unbelievable,” Barak said.

Rabbi Gold concluded his message by noting, “We live in a world of 7 billion people, and it’s hard to imagine that the creator of the universe is looking at little old me.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to feel that when I talk to Him, he’s actually listening,” Gold added.

Gold told TheBlaze that they later verified that the waiter’s last name was the same as that of the soldier for whom his aunt was praying.

“I remember when my aunt shared with me this story for the first time a few months ago, right after it happened, I couldn't hold back my tears, I was crying, it really touched me in such a deep way I knew I had to do something to share it with the world,” Gold told TheBlaze.

He said he’s received hundreds of emails and phone calls from people all over the world thanking him for sharing the story “which goes to show how hungry we all are for the reassurance that there's really a higher power guiding us from above and this story is just one of the many great examples out there.”

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