His ears filled with the sounds of double-decker busses rushing past him as he swerved to avoid the pedestrians and the cycle couriers who cut in front of him every few minutes. Although he veered sharply to the left, the instant he became aware that his bike was in the wrong lane, it was too late and he collided with a Lycra-clad cyclist charging into the space he was about to occupy. “Choose a lane!” screamed the cyclist, fuming. Traveling at high speeds, both cyclists were able to stay upright despite the crash as they continued to pedal on frantically.

RidingHe collided with a Lycra-clad cyclist a bike at rush hour in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road than what he was used to was challenging enough, but add to it that he was preoccupied with worry that he would be late for his appointments to collect mezuzot for checking, and it was a recipe for disaster. It was Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, two days before Yom Kippur. My son, Rabbi Doobie Lisker, then a rabbinical student, had already been in London for 10 days with a colleague, assisting Rabbi Mendel and Rebbetzin Chana Kalmenson, shluchim in Belgravia, in expanding their High Holiday and Sukkot activities.

Earlier that afternoon, Doobie and his friend had set out on Boris Bikes, London’s network of “for hire” bikes, to explore the city. Planning their itinerary to make the most of their limited time, they reasoned that they would be able to see Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister’s office), Big Ben and the Churchill War Rooms.

After a few hours of sightseeing, Doobie left his friend to continue his touring and headed back to the Kalmensons for his mezuzah-collecting appointments. He was biking along Constitution Hill towards Green Park when the mishap took place. Just a few minutes after the impact, intense pain set in. Doobie looked down and saw that his swollen pinky finger was bent at a strange angle. He was unable to straighten it. Docking his bike around the corner from the Kalmensons’ house, he rushed inside to tend to his finger.

Chana Kalmenson took a quick look and determined that he needed much more than the Tylenol and ice he had requested. Before he had time to consider the fact that he had no traveler’s insurance, he was in the taxi she had called and en route to the emergency room. The ER doctor ascertained that his finger was most definitely dislocated, but to Doobie’s dismay, the X-ray also indicated that he had a hairline fracture. Doobie made it back to the Kalmensons just in time for Kapparotwith a splinted finger and an appointment to see a hand specialist at the same hospital on the Monday after Yom Kippur.

An administrator had just started discussing Doobie’s account with him when the nurse ushered him into an examination room. With a refined South African accent, the doctor greeted him warmly as he scanned the medical file. After discovering that the doctor was Jewish and raised in Johannesburg, Doobie began playing “Jewish geography.” During their friendly banter, the doctor revealed that the last time he had wrapped tefillinwas on his bar mitzvah more than three decades ago. Doobie immediately pulled out his ever-present tefillin bag, and the doctor gladly agreed to wrap tefillin right then and there. Doobie told the doctor that he now knew without a shadow of doubt exactly why he had to break his finger.

AfterHe voiced his concern of the charges re-examining Doobie’s finger, the doctor told him he was sending him to the orthopedic department for a special cast, but not before making him another appointment to come back in a week to ensure that the fracture was healing properly. Doobie voiced his concerns over the charges for the multiple doctor visits and admitted that he did not have insurance coverage. The doctor told him not to concern himself at all, and that he would take care of things on that end.

Doobie’s return visit was on the last day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot. The doctor scanned Doobie’s finger, which was healing nicely, and asked Doobie if they would be wrapping tefillin. Doobie explained that tefillin is not wrapped on Chol Hamoed, and took out his lulav and etrog instead. He explained the significance of the holiday of Sukkot and the “Four Kinds” (“Four Species”), and proceeded to guide the doctor in shaking the lulav and reciting the blessings. He then connected the doctor with the shluchim in his area so that he could enjoy Simchat Torah there with his family.


The Baal Shem Tov said: “A Jew must know that when he goes from one place to another, he is not going on his own, but he is being directed from Above, with the intention that he make G‑d known in that locale to which he was Divinely led, by making a blessing or reciting a prayer.”1