A person must know that wherever they are, and no matter what is happening, the force behind it all is Hashem
Shimshon awoke to the sound of splashing, and the sensation of cold water soaking him to the core. His eyes fluttered open as he choked on seawater.
He could hear Sinlar laughing nearby and turned to see the pirate moving away from him on the boat. Baruch was splashing next to Shimshon, also having been pushed into the water while fast asleep.
Sinlar shrugged. Then he held up the scrolls with a triumphant grin.
“Baruch! He stole the scrolls!”
Baruch was busy saying Shema, as his energy levels were beginning to plummet. Sinlar and the boat disappeared as the waves rose higher around the boys. They spluttered and flailed their limbs, struggling to stay afloat.
Shimshon looked over at Baruch, struggling to say something as he bobbed up and down, disappearing beneath the waves, then reappearing a moment later.
“Baruch, what are you saying?”
“Gam… zu… l’tovah!”
“Baruch!” Shimshon choked on a mouthful of seawater. “Stop talking! Conserve your energy!”
Suddenly, a shipping vessel appeared in the distance. Several burly, sunburned fishermen hoisted the boys from the sea and plopped them into the boat. After they had spit out all the water they had swallowed, they asked the fishermen to take them to Uncle Nathan’s, the uncle of Baruch. The fishermen flatly refused, gesturing at the sea, explaining that they were following the birds to catch fish and had no intention of going in any specific direction. But when Baruch assured them his uncle would handsomely reward them for their efforts, they changed their tune and agreed.
Shimshon turned to Baruch.
“What were you saying back there, Baruch? We were dying and you were saying… gam zu l’tovah?”
“Shimshon, you know I’m not the smartest guy around. But there’s one thing I’ll never forget that my rebbeim taught me. A person must know that wherever they are, and no matter what is happening, the force behind it all is Hashem. When a person is faced with a challenge, and they recognize that Hashem is behind it, then the darkness and pain fall away, and the person not only overcomes the challenge, but they are better people than they were before. And, when a person cries out when faced with a challenge, gam zu l’tovah! they change the reality of their situation, making everything turn from something scary to something good. So the message is one and the same: Recognize Hashem in everything that happens, and when you do, the bad, which is really just concealed good, is transformed to be Hashem’s revealed good!”
“From concealed good, to revealed good…” Shimshon thought it over deeply. “I love it, Baruch!”
“Baruch Hashem… it worked, right?”
“Yes, baruch Hashem, it did!”
They finally came to land, departed the ship, and trekked to Uncle Nathan’s massive house near the busy harbor. The fishermen were indeed rewarded nicely for their efforts, and Uncle Nathan ushered his nephew and friend into his home.
“Don’t say a word until you’re both properly washed, fed, and warmed by the fire.” Uncle Nathan spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, his spotless robes and perfectly groomed white beard giving off a very regal appearance. “I won’t have your parents accusing me of not treating you properly, right, Baruch? Besides, when’s the last time you were here? Too long, I’ll say.”
“Uncle Nathan, there’s not time for us to rest up and eat. We have a terrible situation occurring, right now, and we need your help.”
Uncle Nathan paused midway through setting the long dining room table with platters of meat and bread.
“It’s a long story.” Baruch looked at Shimshon. “Shimshon, I-I can’t really explain it.”
“We’re being chased by a man who calls himself Sylvester. He’s after holy scrolls my ancestor wrote together with his friend, Rav Shabsi. These scrolls contain the formula for creating a golem, in great detail. Sylvester will use the scrolls to bring creatures of destruction into the world. The issue is, the scrolls are now in the hands of a pirate named Sinlar—”
“Sinlar?” Uncle Nathan’s eyebrows rose. “I know him.”
“He’s a terrible person. He once was part of my shipping crews, but he stole more money than he helped bring in. We told him to get lost, and last we heard he had taken to pirating random small boats. I think I might know where he can be found. But first, wash up, change your clothing in the bedrooms upstairs, and spend a few minutes eating until you’re satisfied.”
“But Uncle Nathan! There’s no time!”
“Don’t be silly, Baruch! You can’t accomplish anything in the state the two of you are in! Do as you’re told, please.”
There was no talking back to Uncle Nathan. Reluctantly, the boys obeyed.
An hour or so later, they set off for the harbor. Uncle Nathan strode in front, flanked by no bodyguards, though he had several back at his mansion. The boys hurried behind, struggling to keep up with the much older man.
“Hello there, Ali!” Uncle Nathan flagged down the first sailor he encountered. “Where can I find Sinlar?”
“Ah, hello, Sir Nathan! Sinlar? That’s a tough one. I haven’t seen him for several days. Sorry.”
The next several people Uncle Nathan inquired from had no further information about Sinlar.
Then, just as the sun was setting, and they were prepared to give up, they saw him.
“Sinlar! Uncle Nathan, I see him!”
Incredibly, totally unaware that the boys were only a few yards away, Sinlar was sauntering past them, a bottle of rum in his hands.
Baruch began to angrily head for the pirate, but Uncle Nathan stopped him.
“No, Baruch! I don’t see any scrolls on him. Sinlar always wears his loot around his neck. If you grab him now, he’ll never reveal where he hid them. Our best bet is to follow him.”
And so, they did….
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 962)
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