Dr. Abraham Twerski is a renowned psychiatrist and rabbi who descends from a long line of revered chassidic leaders. Dr. Twerski founded and operates a successful drug rehabilitation center in Pittsburgh, and has authored several popular books on drug addiction and spiritual wellbeing. On the Sabbath and holidays he retreats to his home, where he invites guests to share festival meals with his family. At these meals, he relates remarkable chassidic tales that have been handed down from generation to generation—legacies of the Jewish oral tradition.

During one Sabbath meal, after Dr. Twerski had related a particularly striking tale, one of the guests politely suggested, “Why don’t you collect these stories in a book? They’re so moving, but I can barely remember enough details to do them any justice when I try to recount them myself.”

Dr. Twerski was silent and looked thoughtfully at the man. “I used to say the same thing to my uncle,” he said after a few moments.

Later that year Dr. Twerski published his first work of nonfiction stories, titled From Generation to Generation.

In Venice, California, Marilyn received a copy of Dr. Twerski’s new book from a friend as a thank-you gift. In her thirties, Marilyn was divorced and raising her young son, David. She had not grown up in a religious household, and she knew little about Judaism, her religion. At the recommendation of a friend she attended a few lectures on it, and she was so moved that she began to go to synagogue and learn more. Soon she was incorporating some of the practices of Orthodox Judaism into her life, such as keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath.

Marilyn was a respected lecturer in sports nutrition, and she had been on the staff of the 1984 Summer Olympics. In June 1986 she had a speaking engagement in Atlantic City, and everything went smoothly until her return flight home.

On her itinerary, she had one layover in Philadelphia, then a second short one in Pittsburgh, where she would board a final plane to Los Angeles. The flight from Atlantic City to Philadelphia went without a hitch, and she was eager and excited to return home and see her son, David, who would be leaving for his first trip to sleepaway camp that coming weekend. She sighed. It would be the first time they would be apart for an extended period, and she couldn’t help feeling a little wistful about it. I guess my little boy is growing up, she thought.

But as she exited the gate at the Philadelphia airport, she heard over the loudspeaker, “Flight 181 to Pittsburgh will be delayed fifteen minutes because of weather conditions. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

“Oh, no,” Marilyn said under her breath. She felt a flutter of panic and checked her watch. Luckily, she still would have just enough time to make her connecting flight to Los Angeles.

As she waited impatiently, however, there was another announcement: “Flight 181 to Pittsburgh will be delayed another twenty minutes.”

“Don’t they know people have connecting planes to catch?” she cried.

Her chest tightened. Now she really feared she would miss her connecting flight, and she ran to the reservations desk to see about other planes to L.A. But she soon discovered there were none that could solve her particular dilemma. As an observant Jew, she could not drive or take an airplane on a Jewish holiday or the Sabbath; Jewish law forbade it. A two-day Jewish holiday was to begin after sundown that evening, which was a Wednesday, followed immediately by the Sabbath, which would not end until late Saturday night. If she missed her flight, there was no way she could get home before Sunday afternoon. And her son was leaving for camp Sunday morning!

Everything was falling apart. She still had to help David pack—and how would she get him to the airport on Sunday? Even if he got a ride from a friend, how could she miss sending him off on his first long trip away from home? And where would she stay for the next three days, so she could properly observe the holiday and Sabbath? These thoughts played over and over in her head until they finally announced that Flight 181 was ready for boarding.

She fretted the entire way from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, hoping and praying that she would make it. As the plane landed and arrived at the terminal, she grabbed her duffel bag and dashed to the exit, slightly crazed. She ran all the way to the connecting flight, but it was no use. The flight to Los Angeles had already left.

“Oh, no!” she cried aloud, suddenly paralyzed by her anger and frustration. For a moment she just stood there and sobbed, feeling the sting of life’s unfairness.

After a few minutes, she’d calmed down and gathered her wits about her. She called her rabbi in Los Angeles.

“Stay in Pittsburgh for the holiday and the Sabbath,” he advised her. “We’ll help you with your son. Find a Jewish family to stay with.”

Since she didn’t know anyone in Pittsburgh, she tried to reach some local synagogues. But with the holiday approaching, their offices were closed. She tried a few other Jewish organizations. No luck. Panic began to overtake her again. She checked her wallet; she had almost no money. She had never felt so helpless.

Then, suddenly, the name Abraham Twerski popped into her head. He lived in Pittsburgh. Yes. Yes, she was sure of it. She remembered his name from inside the jacket cover of his book. He runs a hospital for drug addicts in Pittsburgh! I must find him!

She took a cab to Twerski’s hospital, spending nearly all the cash she had. She bolted inside and found Dr. Twerski’s office, but it was empty. She uttered another cry of despair.

Marilyn found one of the doctor’s associates. “Please give me his number at home,” she asked.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” the associate replied. Marilyn explained her situation, but her frenetic, panicked manner only made the associate more nervous.

“Of all people, the rabbi would understand,” Marilyn pleaded. “Please, you have to help me. I don’t even have any money left for a cab.”

Marilyn’s distress was so genuine that the associate finally said she would call Dr. Twerski’s son, who also worked in the hospital. She called him at home, and he arranged for Marilyn to spend the holiday and Sabbath with a family near the Twerski residence. Dr. Twerski’s son arrived at the hospital twenty minutes later and drove Marilyn to the neighbor’s house. She almost couldn’t contain her gratitude and relief.

As he dropped her off, he wished her a happy holiday.

“And you too, happy holiday,” she replied. “And thank you again!”

Marilyn’s hostess greeted her warmly at the door, surrounded by the exquisite aroma of freshly baked bread. “We’re delighted to have you,” she said. “Come, let me show you to your room.” She led Marilyn upstairs and left her alone.

Relieved, but still worried about her son, Marilyn immediately called a good friend in Venice to make sure he would be taken care of and would get to the airport all right. Then she called David and explained what had happened. She concealed her own disappointment, reassuring herself that he was in good hands.

Then Marilyn lay back on the bed, exhausted and hungry, and began to relax for the first time in hours. She replayed the day’s tiring events in her head. She freshened up and went downstairs. The house was full of holiday spirit, and the good cheer and smells of cooking were intoxicating. She lit candles with the other women in the dining room as they waited for the men to return from prayer at the synagogue.

The men arrived with great noise and abundant greetings, and the family sat Marilyn at a place of honor for the evening meal. The warmth and the joyous songs uplifted and enraptured Marilyn in a way she hadn’t expected, creating a sense of openness inside her to whatever destiny had to offer. When she went to bed that night, she fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

The next day, it was arranged that Marilyn would have lunch at the Twerskis’ home nearby. After hearing of Marilyn’s mishaps, Mrs. Twerski said, “There must be a reason for all this.”

At lunch, Marilyn felt the magic of the previous night lingering inside her. Across the table, several men were engaged in various conversations, and one of them, Steven, began to catch her attention. He had light, kind eyes and a warm manner, and he displayed an admirable conviction in his beliefs. He was also quite funny. Every so often Marilyn laughed at one of his offhanded comments, and as the meal progressed, it seemed his lighthearted jokes were meant especially for her.

At the end of the meal, Steven offered to walk Marilyn home. They walked slowly, talking easily and comfortably. It was not long before Marilyn felt as though she had known him all her life. She was disappointed when they arrived at the house where she was staying, hoping for any excuse to continue talking. For the rest of the day, all she could think about was Steven.

The next morning, over coffee, she asked her hostess where Steven would be having lunch after the morning synagogue service. Marilyn arranged to eat lunch in the same place. But when lunchtime came, Steven didn’t appear. When Marilyn made some casual inquiries about him, she found out he was dating someone. Oh, how could I have been so wrong? Marilyn thought. Was I the only one feeling a connection? She thought that perhaps the wine and song from the night before had deluded her, and she couldn’t help feeling disappointed.

On Saturday night, Marilyn quietly packed her few things for her trip back home the next morning. The telephone rang. It was Steven.

“Hi. I so enjoyed talking to you,” he said.

Marilyn’s heart skipped a beat. “Me, too.”

“I changed my lunch plans and came over the next day to where you’re staying, so we could have lunch together. But I guess you went somewhere else.” Marilyn smiled, but decided not to say anything. “Are you leaving tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes. First thing in the morning.”

“Would you like to go out for a drink tonight?”

“Yes,” Marilyn answered. “I would.”

That night they went out, and their connection felt just as strong as it had at lunch two days before. And as it turned out, he wasn’t dating anyone seriously. The next day, he drove her to the airport.

When Marilyn got home, she was just pulling her key out of the latch when the telephone rang. It was Steven.

“Was your trip all right?” he asked.

“Yes. I just walked in.”

Then he dispensed with further small talk. “I’d like to come to L.A. to see you.”

The next week Steven went to L.A., and not long afterward, Marilyn visited him in Pittsburgh. Five weeks later, neither of them had doubts about their feelings for each other, and they became engaged. After they married, they settled in Pittsburgh, not far from the Twerskis, and they had four children together.

But their fated match was set in motion long before fog delayed Marilyn’s flight.

Who was the young gentleman who politely suggested that Dr. Twerski memorialize his chassidic tales in a book? That gentleman was Steven.