Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mission Possible: Parshas Bamidbar

There is an underlying theme traveling through the fourth sefer of the Torah. It's called Divine Providence. That each and every occurrence in life happens for a very specific reason, with Hashem pulling the strings behind it. We see this revealed throughout the 40 years the Jews were in the midbar, and even the mitzvos handed down in these parshios relate to the theme of G-d's specific concern for each individual person.
We learn in pirkei avos that 'aizehu chochom, haroeh es hanolad' . This literally means, 'who is wise? someone who sees what will be born'. No, this has nothing to do with reading a sonogram. Who is a wise person? Someone who looks ahead into the future.
Someone who recognizes that there is a long term goal up ahead, which was predestined and set up specifically for him. Someone who realizes that every single thing that happens, including which parents he came from, the personality he was given, his mazal, and every single other daily occurrence, is part of a chain starting far back, and going way ahead. This is a person who lives in the future. Understanding that there's a rhyme and reason for it all, whether or not his binoculars can actually see it.
One who thinks that each action is coming from nowhere, and heading nowhere, is a person who lives ONLY in the present, and therefore, doesn't fall into the category of a chochom.  
But it seems like such cop out behavior to just sit back and blame everything on G-d, doesn't it?
True. There's a fine line over here which needs to be met with caution. Placing our belief in G-d's complete control over everything, does not release us from taking personal responsibility for all our actions. It's very easy and satisfying to sit back and say "gam zu l'tovah", this, too is for the best. But if I miss my train because I woke up late and left things for the last minute, I have no right to blame G-d by saying gam zu l'tovah. What does He hafta do with this? It's my fault for being irresponsible. If, however, I woke up and left the house on time, but got stuck in an unavoidable traffic jam on the way to the station, and missed the train, well then that would be out my control, and obviously willed from Above.
This is the challenge we face. To know and understand that everything happens for a reason with Hashem's constant guidance, while still being able to take responsibility for our actions, without shifting the blame to Divine providence.
Now, we can take this understanding to the next level as well. If each one of us was born purposely into a specific family, and we received a nature intended just for us, and we are thrown into daily circumstances that are custom made for each individual, then there must be a specific goal for each one of us to achieve based on what we were given. And that's precisely why we have to put in our utmost hishtadlus, effort, and bare responsibility for how much we actually put in. This is why, in the sedra this week, the Jews are being counted one by one... to show us the importance- not just of the Jews as a nation, but the significance of each individual.
Chaza"l teach us 'lo alecha hamelacha ligmor', it's not up to you to complete the job. We each have a Mission Possible. We have to achieve it with the tools we were given, dedicating our strengths to this cause, and baring the responsibility for trying. However, whether or not we actually fully accomplish what we want to, or the conclusion of the project or mission at hand seems to be beyond us, as long as we gave it our best, we are not responsible for the outcome. That's in Hashem's hands. And that's where we say gam zu l'tovah. 
Just a quick note: Lucky for us, immediately following shabbos this week, begins the special festival of Shavuot. There's a whole lot more to this special holiday than flowers and cheesecake.
Shavuot is the day that we became the Jewish Nation!
 Not coincidently (obviously), our parsha theme continues to travel throughout the holiday.

When we originally received the Torah at Mt Sinai, the hardest adjustment for the Jewish nation was the sudden responsibility that came along with it. Because Following the Torah means TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTIONS.

The general attitude among human beings is that Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. I'm responsible for everything that goes right, but someone or something else is responsible when something goes wrong.

The first step in my personal preparation for Kabbalat HaTorah is to stop making excuses for myself. To stop blaming other people or circumstances for my mistakes.
I alone am responsible for my actions.
 Have a great shabbos and a meaningful Kabbalat HaTorah!

" If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments".