Friday, June 1, 2012

Reading Between The Lines- Parshas Naso

So about 20 years ago, during the Gulf War, it was obvious to anyone with functional eyes and ears that Israel was experiencing an outpouring of open miracles. Once, during a particularly stressful day where missilles were falling left, right and center, and in one neighborhood, people spent more time in their bomb shelters than they did in their homes, something amazing happened. Building after building was being hit and crumpled to the ground, but not one person, NOT EVEN ONE PERSON was killed. Not. One. When it was safe to go outside again, some of the residents of that area were met by microphones and reporters. No one was able to believe what had just happened. One man found himself with a mike shoved up his throat and a reporter shouting questions at him. No one really remembers the news report from that day. But I will never forget the conversation between this man and the reporter. He asked "So how do you feel about the tremendous miracles that transpired here today?" The citizen responsed: "Nah, these aren't miracles. Things like this happen all the time in Israel!"

Sometimes we need to learn how to learn how to 'read between the lines'.
The parsha this week discusses two major topics, each one important, but seemingly unrelated to each other. The first is the sotah, the accused adulterer, and the second topic is about the nazir, the one who vows to refrain from wine. What's the connection between these two people; why are they spoken about together?
The gemorah explains that the misuse of wine is what led to the problem of suspected adultery. Therefore, one who is present and witnesses the process of this accusation, should respond by refraining to drink wine.
So is that the moral of the story here? No more Jack Daniels? Burn the shot glasses? Not so fast. That's the moral for the nazir. The lesson that we pull out is different. The idea is that everything that happens to us, or even something impersonal, but yet in our presence, is happening for us to absorb as a learning experience; an opportunity to learn a custom-made message which G-d is sending our way.
For the nazir, it was realizing the negative consequences of intoxication, and therefore he reads his message as a necessity to abstain from wine. But for each one of us its something unique, based on our circumstances and on our personal differences.
There's a medrash, when discussing the miracle of krias yam suf, that states: Raata shifcha al hayam ma shelo ra'ah Yechezkel ben Buzi... there was a maidservant by the water who saw miracles that even Yechezkel ben Buzi hadn't seen...
R' Chatzkel Levenstein shares with us an inspiring insight. 
He asks: This woman witnessed an incredible revelation. She saw such a great level of truth and clarity of the way Hashem works... How can a woman who's worthy of such greatness be called a shifcha, maidservant? She's a neviah! A prophetess!
Yechezkel ben Buzi was a major navi. He was the closest one can get to the maaseh mercava- to the angels, and to the ways of G-d.  And, his prophecy was one of the top revelations...
And here we have a woman, who has seen greater things than him, and she's being called a maidservant?!?
Yes. Because she stood there and witnessed such a superior revelation of the greatness of G-d, and so many open miracles, yet she still remained exactly the same person she was before. She was present at one of the greatest moments in history, and yet, she remained, in actions and thoughts, unchanged. Her name didn't change from "Maria the maidservant" to "Maria the prophetess".  She didn't change at all.
Yechezkel became a navi, not because of what he saw, but because he used each prophecy to grow and improve, and become a better person.
Two people can go through the same experience in life, but have two different reactions from it. One can become more sensitive and make positive changes, and the other will remain exactly the same; untouched, unmoved, unchanged.
So, although this maidservant may have seen more, it's not what you see or experience that makes the difference, but how you take the lessons from it and apply them. That's what counts.
Whether we acknowledge something beautiful, shocking, or inspiring... whether its a positive experience, or a negative one, there's something special in it for us to pick out and learn from. What a waste to let these opportunities fly away, cuz chances are, that moment will not return in the same form. Yes, you'll be inspired again some day, but the result of the  action will be a different one. The first one is gone... forever.
 When a person acts on inspiration, so much goodness can be accomplished. 
Does G-d speak to man? Most definitely. But He speaks between the  lines. In order to hear Him, there are a few rules:
1. Eyes must remain open at all times.
2. Ears must be cleaned and unplugged.
3. Minds must be exercised, focused, and open.
4. Hearts must be soft, good, and beating.
"Nah, these aren't miracles. Things like this happen all the time in Israel!"

"To be intoxicated is to feel sophisticated but not be able to say it".
Have a great shabbos