Friday, May 10, 2013

Mission Possible

There is an underlying theme traveling through the fourth sefer of the Torah. 
It's called Divine Providence. 
Every occurence in life, be it of greater or lesser significance, is orchestrated by God. We see this revealed throughout the 40 years the Jews were in the midbar. Even the mitzvos that are handed down in these parshios relate to the theme of God's specific concern for each individual person.
We learn in pirkei avos, '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, as well every detail throughout his day, is part of a chain starting far back, and going way ahead. This is a person who lives with his eyes looking to the future. He understands 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 comes from nowhere and heads nowhere, is a person who lives only in the present, without long term concerns, and therefore, doesn't fall into the category of a chochom, because he´s limiting the pleasure and contentment of his own life. 
Ok, stop yawning. I know this is nothing new to some of you. But other people reading this are actually just waking up now. This is great news! Am I implying we can sit back on the beach for the rest of our lives and just blame everything on God?

Not quite. There's a fine line over here which needs to be met with caution.  
Placing our belief in God'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. 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 of 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.
 This can be understood even further. 
If my family, nature, and daily life details were custom made for me, then there must be a specific goal for me to reach based on what I was given. 
And whether or not I achieve that purpose, is completely my responsibility. I can´t blame my abusive kindergarten teacher, nor can I blame my father who was always away on business. 
The number one obstacle to self growth, is excuses. 
I need to stand up, grow up, fess up, own up, and take responsibilty for my decisions and actions.
This is why, in the parsha this week, Bamidbar, 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.
I have a Mission Possible. And no one can accomplish it, but me.
The good news is, I´m not responsible for the outcome, solely for the effort. 
The results are in Hashem's hands. And that's where we say gam zu l'tovah. 
This Tuesday night 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 and failures.
I alone am responsible for my actions.
 " If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments".
 Have a great shabbos and a meaningful Kabbalat HaTorah!