for ShavuotThe night was still young and the yeshiva students were just beginning to get into their groove. It was Shavuot night, when Jews around the world stay up learning as a “tikkun“–a repentance for that night some-3,500 years ago when, according to a famous midrash, the Jewish people fell asleep the very day  the Torah was to be granted.

I was back where it all started for me just some 6-7 years ago. I’d been living in Ramat Hasharon with no clue of what religious Judaism meant, no direction in life and no one to turn to. A young family man who’d come to Gush Dan from Beit El following the “Disengagement” from Gaza to spread the teachings of the Torah, found his way into my life. He provided the spark I needed so badly. Today, I look to him for advice in my personal, business, and social life. Some people have psychologists they can go to. I have him.

When we first started learning Torah, we began with Yehuda HaLevi’s renowned work, “The Kuzari.” We read the part where HaRav talks about the holiness of the Land of Israel. While living in Ramat Hasharon, I also met Nadav, another young man who was then studying for a degree in logistics.

As the yeshiva guys began chanting their melodies, swaying to and fro in an attempt to ward off  sleep, Nadav and I reminisced about our “chance” encounter at the Morasha junction in Ramat Hasharon. He told me he met two people there: his future wife and me. We had opened up Megilat Ruth, the epic story of the righteous convert, Ruth, King David’s great grandmother and one of the most colorful characters in the Old Testament.

Nadav was telling me how the wording “by chance” appears twice in the megilah. Both instances, he pointed out, are, as we know, not “chance” at all but rather remarkable examples of hashgacha pratit, G-d’s involvement in our everyday lives. The fact that Nadav had met me and his future wife in the same place was also apparently “coincidence” of this type.

Life has a way of going ’round in circles. You go in one direction but somehow, you end up back where you started. Maybe, it’s just coincidence and maybe it’s the hand of G-d trying to lead you to where you belong; to where you need to be. It’s always been this way for me. While I tried to flee reality; tried to leave Israel, something deep inside me was telling me I should come back home and fulfill my life mission.

I was back in Ramat Hasharon where it had all begun. I felt a mixture of worry and relief. There were still people here who had wanted me to fail; who had represented all that’s wrong with this world. There was also my Rabbi’s family: G-d fearing people who devoted their lives to helping people like me.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this story as there is from everything that takes place in our lives. Two things actually: Everything’s for the best and There’s no giving up in the world. These are the two things my rabbi told me when I was in the worst crisis of my life and these are the things that I’ve been carrying with me ever since. And yes, everything is for the best if only we think it is.

We stayed up the entire night and prayed Shacharit with the first rays of dawn. I thought back to all my shortcomings: the dreams I hadn’t yet accomplished, the people who’d shunned me, the multitude of times I’d fallen flat on my face. And yet, here I was, in Ramat Hasharon where it all began.