Believing Jews know that the Almighty runs the world. His hand is in everything that occurs. While this is always true, sometimes it is more obvious than at other times.
And so it was on our recent trip to Switzerland. We had booked a reservation at a kosher hotel for Shabbos. When we called a few days in advance of our travels to confirm, we were told that the hotel had closed (was anyone going to let us know?!).
You can imagine our frustration. We had planned our trip with this destination in mind, eagerly anticipating an appropriate Shabbos environment, not to mention some hot food. We ground our teeth and went back to the drawing board.
We remembered an ad we had seen in a popular Jewish magazine and searched the house for a back copy. (There are times when de-cluttering is a disadvantage!) We located the kosher hotel in Wengen. Where? We had never heard of it either but beggars can’t be choosers so we rerouted our trip and booked our Shabbos accommodations, buoyed only by the prospect of the aforementioned hot food.
This is where the Almighty’s intercession became obvious. Wengen is hands-down the most beautiful spot I’ve ever been – or seen. It’s above a valley and the city of Lauterbrunnen with a myriad of waterfalls running down the sheer cliffs, and surrounded by those majestic Alps. We kept thinking that it looked too good to be real and we were living inside some kind of picture postcard fantasy.
And best of all, everything could be seen from the balcony of our (kosher) hotel. The hotel was a magnificent old property that in its most recent incarnation had been a Club Med facility. Now it is rented out by observant Jews for eight weeks in the summer. As I looked into the room full of men in black and modestly-attired women, I couldn’t help marvel at the contrast. When Club Med vacation spots are overrun by religious Jews, the Messiah must be on the way!
Before Shabbos, we travelled down to the valleys and ascended some of the waterfalls. We watched beautiful sunsets and gazed in awestruck silence. On Shabbos, we walked up and down and up and down (I have the aching leg muscles to prove it!) mountain paths too numerous to mention – catching that view from every angle, and amazed each time.
We were reluctant to have Shabbos end – and here the Almighty was equally obliging since it wasn’t over until close to 10:30 p.m.!
We left the next day for Luzern, beautiful in its own way, holding on to the wonder of the scenery and our gratitude for both the spectacular panorama and the fortuitous series of events (although they didn’t appear that way at first) that took us there.