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Thought for the Day: Reading the Signs of Where You Are Headed

One of favorite parts of Megilas Esther is when Mordechai is discussing with Esther whether or not to go to the king.  Esther is hesitant, and Mordechai responds (4:14), "Who knows?  Maybe it is for a time as this that you were elevated to royalty!" Maybe?!?  Who knows?!?  Isn't that the point of this whole story?  Yes, they are in the middle of things, but Mordechai had been watching this story unfold for 10 years.  Moreover, Mordechai was on the Anshei K'nesset HaG'dolah (The Men of the Great Assembly), which was made of or prophets and near prophets.  If anyone was in a position to know what was going on, it was Mordechai.  And he didn't.

Lesson learned: Never say, "Oh, I know why that happened."  No; you don't.

But sometimes you do get an indication from Heaven that you should change your ways.  Chazal tell us that the parasha describing the punishment of the sota is next to the parasha describing nazirus to tell you that anyone who sees a sota in her degradation should take a vow of nazirus.  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains this as a sign from Heaven bases on another Chazal: b'derech sh'adam rotze leilech ba, molichim oso -- a person's actions, thoughts, and even desires creates a spiritual channel that makes progress in that direction easier (Makkos 10a, as explained by the Maharshah).  So seeing the sota is an indication to the person that such is the spiritual path he has created; time to repent and change his ways!

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach uses this principle to explain another halacha.  If a person were to see, Rachmana Latzlan, a sefer Torah being burned, he should fast.  In fact, even if he see a sefer torah fall, he should fast; though he can also give tzedaka in that case. On the other hand, if a person sees a Talmid Chacham -- a living sefer torah -- leave this world, he should tear kriyah, but there is no obligation to fast.  Why the difference?  Each Jew has his unique cheilek in the Torah.  When one see a sefer torah burning, or even falling, it means that hashgacha has shown him that his particular cheilek is being destroyed.  That is, the spiritual path that he has set for himself is leading in that direction.  He has no personal cheilek, on the other hand, in the Talmid Chacham.

Perhaps you are feeling very smug now that you haven't seen a sota nor have you seen a sefer torah burning and therefore you feel secure in your chosen path.  Perhaps that's true; perhaps you are so securely on your chosen path that Heaven figures you aren't going to pay attention to such subtle signs.  You might want to take stock and re-evaluate your path before Heaven comes up with something a touch less subtle.

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