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Thought for the Day: Simple Faith and Trust In HaShem Is Really Hard Work

I am always tickled when I see that T'hillim/Psalms or Mishlei/Proverbs -- sometimes even the Torah itself -- quote from the p'sukei d'zimra.  I am, of course, then tickled by the silliness of that; even though I know, of course, that p'sukei d'zimra are gleaned from T'hillim/Psalms and Mishlei/Proverbs -- sometimes even the Torah itself -- my spiritual tickle bone still gets its two cents in.  I also really get excited when I see a confluence (don't you just love that word?) in my learning, davening, and even (seemingly) off hand conversations.

So just get this confluence (in reverse order, a choice I will explain in due time):  I have a chavrusa after davening to learn one verse of Mishlei with the explanation/commentary of the Vilna Gaon, aka the Gr"a.  This morning we learned 19:21: רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב-אִישׁ; וַעֲצַת יְהוָה, הִיא תָקוּם/Many are the thoughts in the mind of a man, but counsel of HaShem is the one that will stand.  "Hey!  Hey!", I exclaimed (yes, I fear that I do things like that...), "that's from p'sukei d'zimra!"  (See intro above regarding tickling the spiritual funny bone.)  The truth, that it is one of the (regrettably few) verses in p'sukei d'zimra that I usually notice saying.  I always thought it was a nice view on my coming day.  Lots of stuff will be swirling around, plans made, schemes executed, but at the end of the day everything will be as HaShem wanted.

I don't think that is a bad p'shat/way to understand the verse, but it is most certainly not what the Gr"a says.  The Gr"a understands this to be taking to to individual regarding how to proceed when faced with a situation that needs some planning for what, how, and when to implement schemes to achieve his ultimate goal.  The Gr"a says that "thoughts of a man" are just that, the schemes and whatnot that he creates to work through to his goal.  "Counsel of HaShem", on the other hand, is that idea that just drops into his head, more or less full blown, seemingly out of nowhere.  Great!  But how to tell the difference.

So last night I was asking a friend about the welfare of one of his daughters.  I knew her some years ago and was aware there had been some "bumps in the road".  He told me things could not be better and commented, "It's just amazing what can happen when you let HaShem run the world."  I told him I got that lesson in life early from Mrs. Snyder, my 8th grade algebra teacher.  She told us, "The only way to do algebra is to let the problem solve itself."  Those of us who caught on to that idea became successful in our math career; those who didn't, didn't.  What she meant was not to look at each step and try to figure out how to get to the end.  Just look at the problem as is, use the rules of algebra -- not your own ideas of how to get to the solution -- decide what to do next.  Eventually, you'll arrive at the solution.  Guaranteed.

R' Fuerst that morning had told us a medrash.  In short, a merchant was traveling across the see with a chest of gold and silver (needed for his business transactions).  He heard the sailors scheming to throw him overboard and then steal his money.  He decided to stage an argument with his son and in the midst of the staged fight, he would throw the chest overboard.  His thus saved his life (as the sailors no longer had any motive to kill him), but lost his fortune.  When they reached shore, the merchant took the sailors to court. claiming he wanted to be reimbursed for his loss by the sailors, as they had caused the loss.  The judge ruled in favor of the merchant and asked him how he came up such a clever scheme.  He said that he just took advice from Shlomo HaMelech: There is a time and place for every concept and every thing under the sun... a time to guard, a time to cast away.  (Koheles/Ecclesiastes 3:10).

I put these in reverse order, because I didn't really appreciate the midrash until I learned that Gr"a this morning in the context of just having reminded myself of that fundamental rule of algebra revealed to me by Mrs. Snyder.  Of course Mrs. Snyder's rule of taking your hands off only works when you really, really understand algebra.  Without a deep understanding, you don't know how to take your hands off!  Trusting in and recognizing the counsel of HaShem comes after serious and consistent learning HaShem's Torah.  Without that, you aren't being trusting, you are just being reckless.

People think I am joking when I say it took me nearly 60 years to get smicha.  I am not joking or exaggerating in the least.  I see time and again how the lessons I have received over the course of my life have been one continuing education course in avodas HaShem.


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