May 8, 2018
Menachem Ziegelboim in #1117, Miracle Story


Many people in S. Maur, France, know Rabbi Hershy (Tzvi Hirsh) Drukman. With his winning smile, he goes from place to place, looking for Jews and trying to connect them to their Jewish identity. As he walks in the street, when he’s in his car, or at the Chabad House, wherever he is, he seeks out Jews and offers them Judaism.

One Friday afternoon, he finished his weekly encounter with one of his Jewish friends, a manager of a laboratory in the center of Paris. As every week, the two schmoozed and Rabbi Drukman put tefillin on him and the man put money in the pushka. After leaving him with Shabbos reading material, they parted with a warm handshake.

Rabbi Drukman looked at his watch and saw it was getting late. It would be Shabbos in just a few hours. He had to rush home to help with the final preparations. How great it was that he had a motorcycle that he could ride from place to place without being stuck in Parisian traffic.

He put on his helmet, turned on the motor and with a roar, began making his way home.

It suddenly started to rain, so R’ Drukman slowed down and secured his helmet. It was much more dangerous now. The roads were slick and there was reduced visibility. He had to be careful. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a sports car speeding across the street, right where he was supposed to cross. He realized that the situation was extremely dangerous and his heart began to beat wildly. He began to quickly think of his options; there weren’t many.

What could he do? Should he try to brake on a wet road when he was driving over 80 kilometers an hour? As an experienced motorcyclist he knew what that meant; he was likely to flip over. Should he continue riding? He had no doubt that such a choice would end in a critical collision, maybe even a fatal one. Two bad choices and he had to quickly decide which was the least bad.

In a split second he decided to gamble on the first option and brake. As he expected, his motorcycle skidded and he fell off. He tried to maneuver himself away from the road, knowing that behind him were cars that might not stop in time.

“Are these my final moments?” he wondered as his life passed before him like a movie reel.

There was a squealing of brakes and then silence.

A car stopped behind him. The driver was experienced enough to block off the street from the rear, in order to prevent other cars from riding over the body of the fallen motorcyclist.

A tense silence.

R’ Drukman began feeling himself all over, checking to see whether he had been injured and if yes, where. He did not feel any specific pain. He moved his right foot, his left foot, checked his arms, his head. Everything responded nicely. Boruch Hashem, he was fine.

He tried getting up and out of the way of the cars before a long line would form. He noticed a woman walking quickly on the opposite pavement. “Is everything okay? Is help needed?” she asked in French.

R’ Drukman stood up and tottered a bit. “I think I’m all right,” he said, and removed his helmet. The woman looked taken aback, as though she hadn’t expected to see a man with a beard under a motorcycle helmet.

“Is everything all right?” she asked repeatedly, this time in Hebrew with a heavy French accent.

Now it was R’ Drukman’s turn to be surprised. “She’s Jewish,” went through his mind, but the woman didn’t give him time to dally. “Come, let’s take your motorcycle to the sidewalk and see what damage there is.”

With the help of other people who had gathered in the meantime, they dragged the motorcycle to the sidewalk. They saw that the motorcycle was also miraculously in excellent condition, having sustained just a few minor damages.

When his heart slowed down and he began breathing normally again, the woman introduced herself. “I’m Nicole Levy. I live in the area and just happened to pass by now. I didn’t expect to meet a Jew; never mind an Orthodox rabbi.”

Of course, a shliach like R’ Drukman wouldn’t miss an opportunity that came his way. A shliach is always a shliach, even if he is just moments after a road accident that could have claimed his life.

“Do you light Shabbos candles?” he asked.

“Shabbos candles?” she mumbled. “No, I don’t. I don’t have any family and I don’t observe Shabbos.”

“May I invite you for Shabbos?” he offered.

“Which Shabbos?” she asked in surprise.

“This one, tonight,” he answered.

Nicole smiled. “I don’t think I can come tonight; I have plans. I’d be happy to come a different Shabbos.” She asked for his phone number which he gave her. They parted ways and R’ Drukman hurried home to set the Shabbos timers and put the pots on the blech.

When he arrived home, he briefly told of the miracle that happened to him not long before. He told his wife they might have another guest at the Shabbos meal. She thought out loud, “Maybe the accident was so you would meet her.”


Nicole did not appear that evening, nor the following week. R’ Drukman tried to find her number which he had written down, but apparently, in the Erev Shabbos rush, he had lost the paper. He was sorry about that, both because of the opportunity to be mekarev her and because he needed her to serve as an eye-witness for the insurance company. All his attempts to find her were unsuccessful.

Four months passed. One morning, he got a text from an unfamiliar number. It was an ad for a youth event with a famous actor. He was about to delete it, as he usually does with these kinds of texts, but for some reason, he himself doesn’t know why, he replied, “Who is this?”

His phone immediately rang and the caller ID showed the same number as the text.

“Rabbi Drukman? It’s me, Nicole Levy. Do you remember me?”

He was so excited. The missing information about the woman still bothered him occasionally. “Of course, I remember you. We are still waiting for you to join us for Shabbos.”

“When can I come?” she asked.

“What do you mean by ‘when?’ This coming Shabbos.”

Nicole Levy came the following Shabbos. Her face showed a high level of emotion and this remained throughout the meal. One could see that she hadn’t attended a Shabbos meal in a long time. With her glowing face she drew the attention of the other guests who asked their hosts what connection they had with her. R’ Drukman told the story about the accident and the invitation that had followed. “One could say that she was an emissary from Above to come and help me at that frightening time.”

Nicole smiled and said, “I think you need to hear my version of the story.” Silence fell and she spoke, this time, leaving R’ Drukman amazed.

“I am 45 years old, single and living in Paris. I have hardly any family and those that I have, my mother and sister, I have been out of touch with for 20 years. My family’s home was traditional but since I’ve been living on my own, tradition has become hard to maintain.

“A year ago, after many years of being almost completely cut off from Judaism, I decided that I needed to do something to get back to Jews and Judaism. I felt a deep inner need to be connected. I came to the conclusion that in my situation, it would be best to look for work in a Jewish company so that I could form a new social circle, and they might invite me for Shabbos and holidays, and who knows, maybe I would find a good Jewish man to marry.”

“After extended searching, I found a job in the Pletzel (the old Jewish neighborhood in Paris) as a saleswoman in a shoe store. Every afternoon, all of us Jewish employees went out to a restaurant for lunch and we became friends, as I had anticipated. There was only one problem, Shabbos.

“Every Friday, everyone would say ‘Shabbat shalom,’ and goodbye. I noticed that sometimes they would invite one another for a Shabbos meal, but nobody would invite me. Every week I looked forward to an invitation, but that never happened. Every week was another disappointment and this went on for a year.

“The disappointment turned to anger. ‘Were these the Jews you were lacking in life?’ I asked myself. ‘Insensitive people, taking no interest, not thoughtful. Hasn’t a single one noticed that I am alone?’”

Nicole’s voice became choked up as she continued her story.

“My anger grew not only at my friends at work but at Jews in general. I decided this wasn’t for me. I left the job and found work among non-Jews. Only one problem remained, Shabbos. Every Friday night, when I returned home, I would think about Shabbos candles, about the kiddush my father would make in my childhood, and I missed it so much. It gave me no rest. ‘What can I do?’ I thought. ‘How can I stop these thoughts from bothering me?’ I decided I had to find steady work for Friday night to distract me from these nagging thoughts.

“One day, I was looking through the local paper and saw an ad. ‘A church choir is looking for new members. Hours are Friday evening.’ I felt this was for me. I love to sing. Maybe I would be accepted into the choir and that would solve my Friday night predicament.”

There was a heavy silence around the Shabbos table as everyone listened with bated breath.

“After a tryout, I was accepted into the choir and for some months now, I’ve been singing on Friday night at the church. I’ve been returning home so tired that I don’t have time to think nostalgically about Shabbos.

“Everything was fine until that Friday when I left the house and saw a motorcycle turning over on the street. I couldn’t just stand by and immediately went over to help the rider who had rolled into the street and was in extreme danger. As I approached him, I discovered that he was Jewish and not just Jewish, but a rabbi! And if that wasn’t enough, he bothered to remind me that Shabbos was coming and he even invited me for the Shabbos meal, as though he knew me for years. It was all so matter of fact!”

Nicole, almost finished, looked at Rabbi Drukman and said, “Do you think I was there for you? I think that although you are the one who rolled on the street, it was I who was below and you were sent from Above to pick up my soul.”


Nicole no longer sings in a church choir. Every Friday night she is hosted by the Drukmans or by other shluchim of the Rebbe and has begun her journey toward Judaism.

Apparently, it was not just any motorcycle accident.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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