The following story was written and publicized with the permission of the individuals named below and their families.
Caleb Maeir is a local teenager struggling with a diagnosis of cancer. At such times of health crisis, it may be difficult to avoid the question, “Where is G-d?”
Last week however, the CMC, the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign was developed to provide help and support to members of the entire Chicago Jewish community. They witnessed a story of Divine providence that provided Caleb with an unmistakably emphatic and uplifting answer to the question of G-d's closeness.
While asleep one night, Caleb dreamed of a kindly-looking man (whom he did not recognize) who instructed him to have his tefillin checked. This exact dream was repeated three times on the same night. Although Caleb did not recall any other details of the dreams, the man's insistence that Caleb have his tefillin checked was crystal clear.
The thrice-repeated dream made a great impression on Caleb; after all, he was well aware of the importance of putting on tefillin, and he had heard stories in the past about tefillin that were checked and found to be invalid or in need of repair. But beneath the surface, Caleb sensed that the dream had an even deeper message – it signified that regardless of his prognosis, G-d loved him, and cared deeply about his physical and spiritual welfare. Consequently, upon awakening from his dreams, Caleb felt a renewed sense of vitality, of purpose, and spiritual connectedness.
Immediately that same day, Caleb asked his parents to bring his tefillin to the CMC to be opened and professionally checked by a qualified sofer (scribe). Rabbi Wolf explained to the parents that at periodic times throughout the year, the CMC hires an expert out-of-town sofer to come in to Chicago and to spend several days checking tefillin and mezuzos. As the next such time would be in about one week, Rabbi Wolf advised Caleb's parents to leave his tefillin at the CMC, and to borrow one of the CMC's loaner sets of tefillin for Caleb to use in the meantime.
Unfortunately, one week later, the CMC's expert sofer found that Caleb's parents had been sold very poor quality tefillin scrolls. Furthermore, the scrolls were also discovered to now have many issues that rendered them unfit for use without significant repairs.
In view of his circumstances, Caleb and his parents agreed that they would much prefer him to wear better quality tefillin, but this would be very costly. However, there was more evidence of Divine Providence still to come in this story, and Caleb and his family would merit to receive further glimpses of G-d's closeness.
Coincidentally (as it seemed at the time), on the very same day that Caleb's parents had dropped off his tefillin at the CMC, another pair of tefillin was also brought in, by the parents of another teenager, Aili Lafer.
Aili's parents explained to Rabbi Wolf that although his tefillin were of first-rate quality and in pristine condition, Aili had decided that from now on he wanted to wear only Sefardic tefillin. Consequently, Aili no longer needed his old but excellent tefillin, and he decided to sell them for a nominal price to the CMC, and put the proceeds towards the purchase of his new Sefardic tefillin. Aili also specifically requested that the CMC make sure that his old tefillin would end up being used by someone in need. Rabbi Wolf explained to Aili's parents that the matter would have to wait another week before proceeding, as the tefillin needed to be checked by the CMC's expert sofer before they could be passed along to someone else.
Thus, on the very same day that Caleb's tefillin were delivered to the CMC, Aili's tefillin were also delivered. And one week later, on the very same day that the CMC sofer discovered many issues with Caleb's tefillin, he also confirmed that Aili's tefillin were indeed of excellent quality and in top-notch condition. Clearly – and especially in light of Caleb's thrice-repeated dream – these events reflected a message being sent from Above, signed with a Divine seal of approval.
However, the story doesn't stop there. After the CMC confirmed with the two families that Aili's old tefillin would go to Caleb, it was discovered that the two teenagers were actually well-acquainted with one another from school. Moreover, Aili had been praying all along for Caleb's recovery, earnestly wishing to help his sick friend and uplift his spirits! Of course, little could he have imagined the stirring and quite awesome manner in which his fervent wish would be answered.
May G-d grant only the best of health to all of the individuals in this story, that they may personally share their inspiring experiences of Divine Providence for many decades to come.
Please include in your prayers Yisrael Yehuda ben Dena Sarah, for a complete and speedy recovery.