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A Promise Kept  

“Do you know whose briefcase this is?!” he asked the driver. “Rabbi Hershel Schachter is the Baba Sali of American Ashkenazim!”


As told to Sandy Eller by Yummy Schachter


have no idea why we called for a regular taxi instead of using our usual driver. But on our last night in Yerushalayim, we took a taxi to our hotel to prepare for our flight home the following day.

We were already on the way up to our room when we realized we had left my father’s briefcase in the trunk of the taxi. With his passport inside it.

To be honest, neither of us was concerned that the briefcase was gone forever. We were, after all, in Yerushalayim, and goodhearted Jews have a way of making miraculous things happen in the world’s holiest city. I was confident that some way, somehow, we would see it again soon.

It took just two hours for the briefcase to be located, identified, and returned to us. Apparently, when the next rider hailed the taxi to go to the airport, the driver opened the trunk to load his luggage into it and realized there was already a bag in there. They opened it to see who it belonged to and found my father’s ID. The rider recognized his name.

“Do you know whose briefcase this is?!” he asked the driver. “Rabbi Hershel Schachter is the Baba Sali of American Ashkenazim!”


After a little detective work and some Jewish geography, the driver reached us and told us he’d bring the briefcase to our hotel. My father sent me downstairs to meet him with a $100 bill to thank him for his efforts. Much to my surprise, the driver refused to take it, telling me that what he really wanted was a minute with my father.

Their meeting was short but surreal. The driver poured his heart out to my father, explaining that he had been married for 14 years and had no children. My father is a very emotional individual who sincerely feels the pain of others. He held the driver’s hand and with tears in his eyes, told him that he would celebrate the bris of his son the following year.

I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that my father could make a promise like that to a man whose prayers had been unanswered for well over a decade. He isn’t the Baba Sali, and I had never heard him say anything like that before. But when I asked him about it, he responded with just five simple words: “We’re going to daven for him.”

We never exchanged contact information with the driver or even caught his name. Life went on, and the incident faded from my memory.

About a year later, our family found ourselves in Ner Israel Baltimore for Simchas Torah — a first for us. As we were dancing, I noticed that one of the bochurim kept trying to get my father’s attention. I asked him if there was something he needed, and he told me he had just come back from Eretz Yisrael where a taxi driver who heard him speaking English asked if he knew Rabbi Herschel Schachter.

Yes, it was the same driver. And yes, he wanted to tell my father that he and his wife had just become the proud parents of a baby boy, exactly as my father had promised.

I went over to my father. “Do you remember the taxi driver who returned your lost briefcase to us?” I began.

Without blinking, my father replied, “Of course. I’ve been davening for him three times a day, every single day!”

Only in Israel is a lost briefcase returned in a matter of hours. Only in Israel is a reward rejected and a blessing requested in its place. And only among Am Yisrael could the belief of one, and the love of another, combine to create a miracle.


Israel (Yummy) Schachter is the CEO and co-founder of CharityBids. He lives with his wife and three children in Toronto, Canada.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 830)

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    I have never written a letter to the editor before, but when I saw the piece about Rav Hershel Schachter and the Israeli taxi driver, I had to write in.

    My husband and I lived in Washington Heights for the first few years of our marriage, where my husband learned in Rav Schachter’s kollel in Yeshiva University. When we first heard this story years ago, we wrote a kvittel to Rav Schachter to ask him to daven for us to be blessed with children. It was Erev Rosh Hashanah. A year and a month and a day later, our bechor was born.