Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Letting HaShem Run the World and Enjoying the Ride

I was watching my recently digitized home movies and saw some scenes from a trip we made to Disneyland when I was about four or so.  I don't remember much, but I did remember the boat ride where my brother and I got to steer a little power boat.  We were so careful!  It was especially nerve wracking when we had to negotiate around huge rocks in rough water.  I was thrilled that my parents trusted me enough to steer that boat all by myself!  Obviously, as I discovered in subsequent vacations, the boats were on a track under the water.  My parents' "faith" in me seemed a little less shocking.

I spoke last night with a good friend of mine concerning my post about giving tzedaka one dollar at a time because that's better for my midos.  She was a bit miffed that I had not even taken into consideration the feelings of the receiver.  I said, “It's not me!  It's the Rambam!”  (That's me; always ready to hide behind someone big enough to protect me.  Yes; I am coward.)  My friend acknowledged that but pressed the point, “Maybe there are other opinions?”  Maybe, but I don't know any that contradict this position.  So here's my answer.

The Talmud records (Bava Basra 10a) that a wicked Roman nobleman named Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, “If your G-d loves poor people so much, why doesn’t He provide for them?” Rabbi Akiva answered that HaShem allows them to remain poor in order to give us the merit of giving them charity, which will save us from the judgement of Gehinom.  Seems that R' Akiva is also not so concerned about the receiver.  Why not?  Because just has HaShem is providing the giver with the what he needs for his tikun, so to the receiver is being provided with what he needs.  Some of us need to the tikun of giving tzedaka, some of us need the tikun of being m'zake others by giving them a place for their tzedaka to go.  In both cases, the actual needs are being provided for by HaShem.  If the receiver doesn't get all the money they need in one place, it means they are actually getting the benefit of being allowed to be the vehicle by which others get their needed tikun.  Isn't it cool that you can save another Jew from the judgement of Gehinom simply be allowing HaShem to give him the money to give to you?

And why is HaShem so calm during all this turmoil?  We are all avoiding rocks and navigating rough water, but HaShem seems so serene!  Ah... there's a track under the surface...


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…