Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Little Reminders That HaShem Is Running The World

There is a nice/inspirational mashal about a man meeting HaShem in the coming world.  He sees his life as footprints in the sand.  As he looks over his life, he see two pair of footprints along most of the journey; only one, though, in a few critical areas.  The man asks the meaning and is told by HaShem, "I was with you along your journey through life."  "But," asks the man with some sadness, "I see only one set of footprints in the most critical junctures of my life.  Why did you abandon me when I needed You so much?"  "You misunderstand, My son; that is where I was carrying you."

It's a nice thought to keep in mind and it's certainly true, but it's also very hard to appreciate that when you are "in the trenches", as it were.  I heard a beautiful and practical technique the help keep  one focus and avoid panic.  When Yosef haTzadik was sold into slavery by his brothers, he was transported down to Mitzrayim in a caravan of arab spice sellers.  The Torah, of course, has not extra words, so there must be something very important about knowing who was running the caravan and what they were selling.  Rashi explains that arabs usually dealt in petroleum products (interesting, right?), so it was unusual that they were carrying spice.  (Ummm... ok, so?)  In order to not make that tzadik suffer the bad smell of kerosene and oil, this caravan of arabs was carrying sweet smelling spices.

So Yosef haTzadik, all of 17 years old, had just been stripped of his dignity, deposed as the heir apparent of Yaakov Avinu, thrown into a pit of snakes and scorpions by his older brothers, then hauled out to be sold into slavery in a foreign land; a land famous for the fact that a slave had never escaped.  Yosef haTzadik was entering an unimaginable darkness, lonely, and betrayed.  Is he really going to care one way or the other how the mobile prison to which he is chained smells?!

Care, no; notice, certainly.  Why?  Because Yosef haTzadik did not earn that title easily.  As a tzadik he noticed all details around him and looked for Yad HaShem/the Guiding Hand of Divine Providence in every moment of his life.  Yosef knew very well what arab caravans usually carried and he would certainly have noticed this incongruity.  It was the sweet smell of spices that gave Yosef haTzadik the comfort, it was the fact that the sweet smell was a contradiction to everything that had happened that day; it was Yad HaShem.

The lesson for each of us is to be looking for that Yad HaShem when things are bleak.  My wife and I had a small taste of that yesterday when coming to Denver for a chasuna for a friends son.  We thought we'd also use the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary (I turned 20 in June, my wife in July, we got married in August).  What should have been a beautiful afternoon in Denver had turned in to a nightmare at the airport.  First the flight was delayed for over two hours, then we had to change planes so we lost our seats, then we got in late so lost our ride to the hotel.  We are tired and a bit down when we reached the Denver airport.  Waiting for our luggage, I heard a small voice behind me say, "Shalom Aleichem."  I turned around to see teenager in shorts and baseball cap smiling at me.  (I guess he was able to figure out I was Jewish; could have been I was the only one in white shirt, jacket, tie, cap, and tzitzis in the airport.)  I replied, "Aleichem Shalom."  "Hi!  I'm a bochur at the Denver yeshiva; we just graduated yesterday and it's hot today, so I that's why I'm not dressed so much like a yeshiva bochur today.  Do you need a ride anywhere?"

I hadn't been sold into slavery, but I am also no Yosef haTzadik.  I had had a very long day and that little "Shalom Aleichem; do you need a ride?" was a whiff of Gan Eden.

Comments

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: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…