-
Arachim Branches Worldwide Arachim Branches Worldwide
Donate About Us Your Questions Events Pictures Articles Video and Audio Home
Home Articles Weekly Parasha Bamidbar The Jewish Secret
Articles on subject
The Zionist Dream
Arachim
Salvation in Solitude
Arachim
No Happy Ending
Arachim
Bribing G-d
Arachim
The Jewish Secret
Arachim
More Articles
The Jewish Secret
Arachim

The Jewish Secret

Translated and Adapted by Braha Bender

 

Torah tells us that everything is in the hands of Heaven except for recognition of Heaven. Torah also tells us that a man is led in the way he wants to go (BaMidbar Rabbah 20:12). Put these two verses together and you come up with a recipe for controlling your destiny: the moral choices you make trigger the circumstances G-d presents you with. How far does this principle take us?

Take, for example, Rabbi Moshe Aaron Stern, one of this centurys Jerusalem Torah greats. When the little boy was only eight, he contracted a potentially fatal illness. The young Moshe Aharons father turned to the top doctors, rabbis, and beseeched the Heavens for his sons recovery, but he also turned to the boy himself. Everyone is working towards your recovery, he told him. You have to try your best as well.

What am I supposed to do? asked the little boy.

Choose a mitzvah (Torah commandment), said his father, And make a resolution to stick to it when you get well.

The child thought for a moment. Okay, like what?

His father suggested that he commit to always pray in a minyan (a quorum of ten men praying together), the boy agreed, and recovered shortly thereafter. The many years of his life saw Rabbi Stern always making sure to maintain his commitment.

It wasnt always easy. As the spiritual director of the Kaminetz Yeshivah in Jerusalem, Rabbi Sterns position required him to travel to the States to collect funds for a new yeshivah building one year. On the phone with the travel agent, Rabbi Stern was most concerned with whether or not there would be a minyan on the plane.

The agent protested, Rabbi, this is a travel agency; we do not organize prayer schedules. I cannot promise that there will be a minyan. But when Rabbi Stern explained that this might preclude his purchase of plane tickets, the travel agent suggested that a stopover in Amsterdam could afford him time to take care of his religious obligations. Looking into it, the Rabbi Stern saw he would be able to leave the airport, pray, and return for his flight. With that, the tickets were booked.

Landing in Amsterdam, Rabbi Stern found himself with two hours to find a minyan and get back to his plane. Grabbing his tallis and tefillin, the rabbi made his way to the highway. Car after car rushed past him.

Suddenly a car pulled over and the driver stuck his head out.

Where does the rabbi need to go?

Im looking for a minyan for Shacharis (morning prayers), replied Rabbi Stern.

With a grin, the Jew invited him in and off they sped. The Jew, who lived in the suburbs of the city, was heading in to Amsterdam on his way to work.

Turning onto a side street a few minutes later, the two men got out of the car to face the unassuming door of a ground-floor apartment. Inside the building, Rabbi Stern found himself in a mini shul. Eight men stood waiting for them to complete the quorum of ten so that they all could begin their prayers.

The driver insisted on driving Rabbi Stern back to the airport after shacharis. Thanking him profusely, Rabbi Moshe Aaron Stern continued on to the USA.

But when Rabbi Stern would retell this encounter, his eyes would shine. Just think! the rabbi would marvel. Eight men woke up early to go to shul. The ninth man was supposed to come in from the suburbs, as he did every day. And where would the tenth man come from? They imported a Jew all the way from Israel on his way to America!

Because, Torah explains, when it comes to moral decisions, a man is led in the way he wants to go.

This idea is originally conveyed in Parashas Balak.  The parasha depicts Balaam, an evil prophet-for-hire, as he collaborates with the evil King Balak to attempt to spiritually blight the Jewish People.

Balaams journey to Moab to curse the Jews is first discouraged by the Almighty in no uncertain terms: You shall not go with [King Balaks messengers] (Numbers 22:12). But Balaams insistence to follow them leads the Almighty to concede, Arise and go with them But only the things that I shall speak to you that shall you do (Numbers 22:20). In other words, If you still insist on going ahead with this, Balaam, even with the knowledge that I am opposed to it, then go and good riddance. Just remember that you will not be able to harm them if it is not part of My plan.

Since nothing but Balaams downfall could have come from this trip, the Almighty tried to prevent him from going. The Almighty doesnt want to have to serve people with the consequences of their own destructive behavior, so He does everything in His power short of revoking our free will to try to guide us to our benefit. He gave us the Torah, the rabbis, and our own intelligence to try to wake us up. He even tried to convince Balaam to change his mind.

However, we learn from this episode that when a person is dead set on his own downfall, the Almighty steps aside to let him learn the hard way. The same is true to an even greater degree of a person who has his heart set on goodness and greatness. The Almighty steps aside, rolls out the red carpet, and does everything in His power again, short of revoking free will to support him in his wonderful decisions. (Rambam, Laws of Repentance, 5, 1)

Against all odds, Rabbi Stern was directed to a little makeshift shul in an apartment building in Amsterdam to keep the moral commitment he had made in childhood; Balaam was led to his demise. Each of them made a choice; circumstance conceded.

We often see things upside down, as though our lives are being steered by outside forces: I didnt mean for it to work out this way I wasnt trying to make this happen I didnt start it I just happened to be here Its not my fault.

We come up with justifications and place the blame elsewhere, but by shirking the blame we deny our power, as though we are just the chess pieces and not the player. Metaphysically, that just isnt how things happen.

Our moral choices invite our circumstances, for good or for better. Although unbeknownst to many, the truth remains that the deepest, inner wishes of our hearts influence the landscape of life that the Almighty paints before us.


No comments were received this moment
print
send to a Friend
add comment
Hot Topics - articles
Sabbath
Family Relationships
Tefillin
Child Education
Holidays
Basics of Judaism
Life and After Life
Wit & Wisdom for Life
Jewish Perspectives
Success Stories
Torah Giants
Weekly Parasha
The Daily Tip
Mysticism and Kaballa
Science and Judaism
Prayer
Developing Your Personality
Reasons Behind the Mitzvos
Between Israel and the Nations
Faith and Trust
Outlook and Belief
Arachim Activities
Donate |  About Us |  Contact |  Your Questions |  Events |  Pictures |  Articles |  Video and Audio |  Home |  Main Menu:  
General Questions |  Arachim Activities |  Outlook and Belief |  Sabbath and Holidays |  Faith and Trust |  Between Israel and the Nations |  Reasons Behind the Mitzvos |  Developing Your Personality |  Prayer |  Science and Judaism |  Mysticism and Kaballa |  The Daily Tip |  Weekly Parasha |  Torah Giants |  Success Stories |  Jewish Perspectives |  Wit & Wisdom for Life |  Life and After Life |  Basics of Judaism |  Holidays |  Child Education |  Tefillin |  Family Relationships |  Sabbath |  Pirkei Avot |  Subjects:  
RSS |  More: