Columns - 2004

    Proof of faith

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    Blind faith. If you're a devout Jew or a Mets fan, you're familiar with it. It's the act of believing in something despite a ridiculous amount of reasons to not believe right in front of your nose.

    There are many things that Jews can try to explain, but ultimately must carry out as acts of faith. Keeping kosher, not mixing two kinds of cloth in your clothes, enduring "you're Jewish? You must know so and so...", and sitting through sermons, to name a few.

    Some even say that there's a notion of elevated religious fulfillment in acting on faith, rather than carrying out that same act for some rationalized reason.

    If this is the case, then my level of religious fulfillment is headed to a sub-basement. I have finally, conclusively found proof that the Almighty not only exists, but to this day continues to aid and abet the wellbeing of people like me in every day situations, despite conventional wisdom that his last miracle was the1969 Mets. Let me tell you why.

    Hey! I said to let me tell you why. You can't stop reading now. That's better.

    A few weeks ago, I discovered that my cat is not insane. Months ago, the vet told me that insanity cannot be spread from humans to felines. But I was concerned not only because of her prolonged exposure to me, but for her habit of meowing at the door to the garage in the middle of the night. (If she wasn't crazy, she was just being mean. But I raised her better than that.)

    However, in two recent instances of driving home late at night, I saw something scurry in the garage as the door opened and the light came on. The second time it was clear. (Grandma, you better stop reading here. Everyone else better keep reading.)

    There were two rats. They were scurrying in and going after my bag of bird seed for my backyard feeder.

    You may ask, how do hungry rats in my house prove the existence of the Almighty?

    I moved the bag amid a bunch of lumber in the corner, away from where they could get in, until I could fix the hole.

    One night I got home early, around three the next morning. I drove into the garage (after I opened the garage door, unlike my roofing contractor, but that's proof of something else entirely).

    I didn't notice at first that there was a piece of wood sticking out from the corner just enough for me to run over. I did so. I got out and looked. The wood had been near the bird seed. Of course, there was a nail in the wood. And, of course, the rest of the nail was in the tire. I pulled it out and heard air escaping faster than at executive briefings at work.

    I backed the car out to the driveway and parked with the wheel such that the hole was squeezed. No more fast leak, I'd get it fixed in the morning.

    You may ask, how does hungry rats causing a hole in my tire prove the existence of the Almighty?

    The next morning, with the tire still inflated enough, I took my car to my tire place who conveniently fix holes for free. Then I got the seemingly bad news. The nail went through the side. Can't fix that. I have to replace my barely-a-year-old tire. Of course, nobody who ever takes a tire salesman at face value replaces just one tire, so I replaced two.

    You may ask, how does replacing my year-old tires that rats caused a hole in prove the existence of the Almighty?

    The tire people told me that the tires would have been covered if I'd paid extra a year ago for road hazard coverage on the tires. Thirty dollars then would have saved two hundred now.

    You may ask, how does my penny pinching prove the existence of the Almighty? It doesn't, but it proves that the Almighty picks his battles. Or has a warped sense of humor.

    Now, on to the Almighty proof. The tire people went to check my wheel alignment with my two new tires installed. They found that they couldn't due to a bad hub bracket that had to be replaced.

    Apparently this hub bracket problem was dangerous, as explained to me in language such that I felt like ninety percent of the congregation does when it listens to a Torah reading (or some sermons). If I drove on it much longer, I risked death or, even worse, further damage to the spindle and other things that sounded metallic and expensive.

    So the rats saved my life and money. If the rats hadn't gone after the bird seed, making me move it to where they'd knock over some wood when they went out for dinner, puncturing my tire, this significant problem would not have been caught. I could have lost control of the car while driving (for reasons beyond my own driving habits, for a change), or worse had to spend an extra thousand dollars replacing more parts of the wheel mounting if I'd kept driving unaware.

    So I recognize now that the Almighty works in mysterious ways, sending agents of good in the form of rats. I am ever thankful for this blessing and look forward to other interventions by the divine presence, especially if they save me money during tax season.

    And I hope He doesn't take it personally that I got rid of the rats. Their work here was done, and they were just driving my cat insane. I sleep better about my car now, but the meowing was keeping me awake.

    Doug Brook is a technical publications program manager in Silicon Valley. He directed Fiddler on the Roof, playing in April and May in Sunnyvale, California. You may ask, how can I get more information, past columns, other writing, and other current events? Visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.