Shabbat to Share

Food For the Soul

Beans and Birthrights

In the Parsha Toldot (Genesis 25:19–28:9) we read of the birth of twins to Isaac and Rebecca. Jacob and Esau are very different. Jacob is the “dweller of tents,” a diligent Torah scholar, while Esau is a “skilled hunter” and a man of violence.

We also read how one day, when Esau returns from the hunt, exhausted and starving, he finds Jacob cooking a pot of lentils. Esau wants the beans; Jacob offers to give him the pottage in return for Esau’s birthright. As the first-born twin, Esau would have been the one chosen to minister in G‑d’s temple. Esau accepts the offer and the deal is done.

Fast-forward some 275 years. We’re in the Book of Exodus now (4:22), and G‑d is sending Moses to Pharaoh to redeem His people. He describes them as b’ni bechori yisrael — “My son, My first born, Israel.” Rashi, quoting the Midrash, comments: “Here the Holy One Blessed is He affixed His seal to the sale of the birthright which Jacob purchased from Esau.”

Here? It took G‑d so long to put His stamp of approval on a deal that was entered into hundreds of years earlier? Why only now?

The late Israeli Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi M.Z. Neriyah, offered this explanation: You can sell  your birthright for beans, but you can’t buy a birthright for beans. To throw away one’s holy heritage is easy, but to claim it takes years of effort and much hard work.

Being Jewish is indeed the birthright of every Jew. But it’s not enough that G‑d chose us, we must choose G‑d. We need to earn our birthright by living as Jews. It’s not good enough that our parents and grandparents were good Jews, that my Zayde was a rabbi or a schochet and my Bobba made the world’s best blintzes. What are we doing to earn our stripes? Indeed, you can sell your birthright for beans. But you can’t buy a birthright for beans.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman


Shabbat Shalom

Separation of Challah

When the Jewish people first entered and settled the land of Israel, one of the many gifts they were commanded to give to the Kohanim, the priestly tribe who served in the Holy Temple, was “challah” — a portion of dough separated from their kneading bowl every time they baked bread.

The Separation of Challah is one of the 613 mitzvot (divine commandments) that constitute the body and soul of Jewish life. Replete with spiritual meaning, it is one of the three primary mitzvot of the Jewish woman and has a far-reaching effect on the mind and heart of the one who fulfills it, on her household, and on the very character of her home. For more than a hundred generations, Jewish women throughout the world have fulfilled this beautiful and life-transforming mitzvah. For further information, visit Chabad.org


Mind Over Matter

Heart and mind

For Judaism to survive, argues Isaac, you need passion, commitment and emotional strength. You need an Esau to carry, safeguard and implement your message. Rebecca disagrees. Esau has awesome potential, indeed. But he needs Jacob as his compass. Left to his own devices, Esau may use the blessings to further his base desires rather than to perpetuate his grandfather’s legacy. Rebecca therefore convinces a reluctant Jacob to steal the blessings designed for Esau. She understands Esau’s potent quality. But she realizes that Esau’s chaotic power needs direction. It needs Jacob.

Today the trend is to “follow your heart,” to lead a lifestyle that is driven by desire. Chassidic thought says otherwise. Sure, the heart’s passion and drive are powerful forces that can propel you to great heights, but without the mind’s guidance, your passion may propel you to a place you don’t want to be.

From an article by Rabbi Menachem Feldman


Moshiach Thoughts

Eikev (because) Abraham listened to My voice. . .” (Toldot 26:5)

The word eikev also means “heel.” The implication is that Abraham listened with his total being. The word of G‑d penetrated even the lowest and most material part of his body. When the service of G‑d penetrates a person’s totality, even his “heel,” one can be assured that he will have the fortitude to overcome whatever challenges lay before him.

Indeed, in relation to our predecessors, we are the “heel.” This may cause one to wonder why it is precisely our generation that shall merit the coming of Moshiach. However, it is precisely our service of G‑d, the very end in the process of preparing the world, that will complete the necessary steps to bring about the redemption.

From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet


Have I Got A Story

Why did G-d create evil?

Helpless and betrayed, my brother and I stood alone in the pre-dawn hours. We were just children; he was a teenager and I was perhaps ten. We had set out on an exciting journey: we would take the train to the plane and the plane to our home where, after a full year of school, we would see our family again. We should have taken a taxi, we should have known better, but we were children, trusting and naïve.

We set out to the train station and it didn’t take him long to find us; we were easy prey. One threat and thirty seconds later we were stripped of cash, enthusiasm and confidence. I didn’t care for the money; I was too young for that. Only one thing bothered me. Why? What kind of evil drives a human being to steal? And from children at that! Our hopes dashed and our hearts in our throats, we learned a bitter lesson that day; life is not as innocent as children care to believe.

Why did G‑d create evil and what purpose does it serve? I could not have answered this question on that day, but today, with the benefit of hindsight and decades of study, I offer the following insights.

Our sages taught that G‑d created the world out of sheer benevolence. He wanted to bestow goodness upon humanity. Because He is perfect He wanted to bestow perfect goodness. In other words, G‑d wanted to bestow Himself.

He could have made a perfect world with people who emulate their Creator perfectly. But such people would have been a poor emulation of G‑d. They would not have been inherently good; their goodness would have been bestowed from Above. It would have been a borrowed perfection.

Thus G‑d created a world in which goodness and evil are equal options, and He created humanity with the freedom to choose. Our penchant for goodness is not greater than our proclivity for evil; we are evenly balanced. If we want to embrace goodness we must make a choice, and choices reflect who we are. We are not forced into goodness by powers beyond ourselves. We are moved by our choice, by an inner conviction that goodness is right. This inner resolve reflects the goodness within our souls and comes as close as humanity can possibly come to being inherently good.

G‑d did not create evil so that we could indulge it, but so that we could avoid it. If evil did not exist, choosing against it would not be possible, and perfection would slip from our grasp. That evil is a viable option makes it possible for us to choose against it and affirm our inherent goodness.

Our sages taught that G‑d desired a dwelling place in the lower realm. In spiritual terms, that which perceives itself as closer to G‑d is higher, that which sees itself further from G‑d is lower. The lowest realm is where G‑d is completely unknown and unseen. Where G‑d is absent, as it were, evil exists. Yet it was here, in the midst of a world filled with (potential) evil that G‑d wants us to build a dwelling place for Him.

G‑d thus created evil. Not so that humanity would choose it, but so that humanity could choose it. Could, but hopefully wouldn’t. Inevitably some would fail and choose evil; a lower realm makes immoral behavior possible. But G‑d also knew that not everyone would gravitate to evil. Most of humanity would be upright; they would choose ethics, morality, holiness and G‑dliness. In this way the lower realm would be transformed into a dwelling place for G‑d.2

We now understand why Rebecca gave birth to twin brothers, one righteous the other evil. From the womb they were pitted against each other; their children locked in perpetual battle. Esau represents evil and Jacob represents holiness. Without Esau this world is not a lower realm. Without Jacob this world cannot become an abode for G‑d. The two are evenly matched, made to struggle against each other. But in the end, Jacob will prevail and Esau will humbly seek entry into the Divine dwelling place: “The older will serve the younger.”

The day will come when humanity will transform this lower realm into a sacred dwelling place for G‑d. On that day children will walk about without fear. No longer will children will have to shed their innocence. No longer will they fear the thief, for on that day even the thief will change his ways. On that day humanity will be inspired by the sparkle and shine of G‑d’s holy home. Evil will be eradicated and the Moshiach will finally arrive.

From an article by Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

Food For the Soul

G-d helps those who help themselves

The Parsha Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1–25:18) tells of Isaac taking Rebecca as his wife. “And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother.” Rashi, quoting the Midrash, explains this to mean more than the obvious. When she entered the tent, it was as if she was Sarah, Isaac’s mother. Because Sarah was of such saintly character, she was granted three special miracles. Her Shabbat candles burned the entire week, her dough was particularly blessed, and a heavenly cloud attached itself to her tent. When Sarah died, these blessings disappeared. When Rebecca arrived on the scene, they resumed immediately. In fact, this was a clear sign to Isaac that Rebecca was indeed his soul mate and that the shidduch was made in Heaven.

Each of those three miracles, however, required some form of human input first. A candle and fire had to be found, the dough had to be prepared and a tent had to be pitched before G‑d would intervene and make those miracles happen. In other words, He does help us but we must help ourselves first.

It’s a little like the fellow who would make a fervent prayer to G‑d every week that he win the lottery. After many months and no jackpot in sight, he lost his faith and patience. In anguished disappointment, he vented his frustration with the Almighty. “Oh, G‑d! For months I’ve been praying to you. Why haven’t you helped me win the lottery all this time?” Whereupon a heavenly voice was heard saying, “Because you haven’t bought a ticket, dummy!”

I wish it were that simple to win lotteries. But the fact is that it is the same in all our endeavors. G‑d helps those who help themselves. May we all do our part. Please G‑d, He will do His.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldma


Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Mevarchim

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim (“the Shabbat that blesses” the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) of the upcoming month of Kislev, which falls on Tuesday of next week.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the “birth” of the new moon. (See molad times on Chabad.org)  It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.


Mind Over Matter

A higher life

Sarah had two sets of years to her life, because she merited to higher life as well. Why Sarah more than anyone else? Because she descended to Egypt and rose back up.—Zohar

You came to this life to achieve higher life. Yet whatever spiritual heights you could achieve in this life cannot compare to the heights of your soul before it was squeezed into the limitations of a body. Before it descended to Egypt.

That is, until you do what was put in front of you to do, until you work with this Egypt into which you have been sent, holding tight to your integrity, filling each act with meaning, redeeming the jewels that were lost among the ashes.

Then you will rise higher than anything your soul could achieve. Even while living in this world, you will have higher life.

By Rabbi Tzvi Freeman


Moshiach Thoughts

Not one moment longer than necessary!

When Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, was sent to bring Rivkah to Issac for marriage the journey should have taken 17 days. Miraculously, it took only one day!  Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet wrote: “There is an obvious moral relevant to us, in context of the principle that “The events of the ancestors are an indication for their descendants.” In the case of Rivkah [who was likened to a rose] there was a shortening of the journey to avoid that she remain even one extra moment among the “thorns”, in the house of her wicked father and brother. The same applies to us. We are not to become despondent over the darkness of the galut [exile]: the Almighty will surely hasten the redemption to prevent our being in galut even one moment longer than necessary!


Have I Got A Story

Finding love

“What type of man do I want to marry?” the young woman repeated the question that had been asked of her.

“Well, I want someone kind. And smart. But not the too-kind type that lets himself be walked on. And not the too-smart type that lets it get to his head. Someone who isn’t too much into his books: someone sociable. A leader, the life of a party — but not someone who aggravates with his presence. I’d like him to be handsome, but not haughty. I’d like…”

She looked at the Rebbe, seated behind his desk. His smile was broad and his eyes twinkled.

“It sounds like you want to marry more than one person.”

I’ve told this story — to myself and to whoever wants to listen — dozens of times. I don’t know who the lady was.

But this next story I know happened to Chana Sharfstein:

Chana (then Zuber) was a young woman in Boston in the early fifties. Her father had brought the family there from Stockholm. Not long afterwards he was gruesomely murdered while walking home from shul on a Friday night. Back then, such things shocked New England.

Chana will tell you that after she lost her father the Rebbe adopted her. Six months after her father’s murder, she too, stood before the Rebbe’s desk. Why haven’t you married yet? the Rebbe wanted to know.

I haven’t met the right one.

What will the right one look like?

A charismatic Prince Charming stepped out of Chana’s imagination and into their conversation.

The Rebbe laughed fully.

“You’ve read too many novels,” the Rebbe said, still laughing but growing more serious. “Novels are not real life: they’re fictions. They’re full of romance and infatuation. Infatuation is not real. Infatuation is not love.

“Love is life,” the Rebbe continued. “It grows through small acts of two people living together. With time they cannot imagine life without each other.”

Infatuation you fall into. Love you build. And love-–the barometer of a successful marriage-–is dependant 20% on the person you marry and 80% on the way you marry them every day.

“And they shall build a home in Israel,” the Rebbe said in his blessing he sent Chaya and me for our wedding day. A home and a house is not the same thing. They say nothing stresses a marriage like building a house.

May we all be blessed to build a home-–the newlyweds and the jubilee-plus anniversarians. Built with small acts. Bit by bit. With time.

By Rabbi Shimon Posner

Food For the Soul

Vayeira

The Parsha Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24) holds many insights, but the incident with Hagar and Ishmael deserves special scrutiny since Sarah is often wrongly cast as the villain by those with no understanding of Torah.

There was bitter tension in Abraham’s home. Which of Abraham’s two children would be the one chosen to carry on his legacy? Abraham favored Ishmael, since he was the eldest son and personified kindness; a trait he shared with Abraham. “While Abraham and Ishmael both performed kindness, the motivating force behind their actions could not be further apart,” writes Rabbi Menachem Feldman. Abraham’s kindness was motivated by his humility, Ishmael’s by arrogance. Sarah saw this and worried that Ishmael would have a negative influence on Isaac. Writes Chana Weisberg, “From observing the way Ishmael was behaving, Sarah discerned that he would hurt Isaac by either physically injuring him or spiritually harming him through his sinful ways. She would not –could not –risk having him in her home and took a zero-tolerance approach towards his bullying.” Although Abraham was hard-pressed to banish Hagar and Ishmael, he did so after G-d tells him, “Be not displeased concerning the lad [Ishmael] and concerning your handmaid; whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice, for in Isaac will be called your seed. But also the son of the handmaid I will make into a nation, because he is your seed.”

Sarah’s name means “princess” or “ruler,” adds Weisberg, “Sarah’s boldness and fearlessness serves as a model. Do we genuinely consider what would be the best for our children for their unique, personal development? Despite what society says, or what our neighbors, friends, co-workers, or relatives will say, are we prepared to do what will be most meaningful for ourselves and our families, without any fear of social rejection? Listen to her voice, G‑d said to Abraham. Find your voice of Sarah. Find your inner voice. Find the voice of nobility, strength, and boldness. Find the voice that intuitively knows the best path for your spiritual development.”

Based on the articles Why Ishmael was Rejected and Follow Your Convictions, Chabad.org


Shabbat Shalom

All kinds of miracles

Why are the lives of the sages filled with miracles? Because they open their minds to truth and labor over it day and night. They are the awakened mind of the cosmos—through them the Infinite Light enters this world.

So, of course, nature bows to them, the angels wait upon them, and everything is arranged to serve their mission.

But G-d makes all kinds of miracles and some blend seamlessly into the order of things below. These are impossible miracles: They break no rules, but change everything.In truth, they are the most awesome of miracles—these that reveal the Infinite unrestrained within the finite nature of everyday things.

This Shabbat, take some time to ponder the “impossible miracles” – big and small – that G-d performed in your life.

Inspired by The World at Your Feet and Miraculous Failure by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, Chabad.org.


Mind Over Matter

In training for miracles

The binding of Isaac  was the last of ten tests with which G‑d tested Abraham’s faith, beginning with the time Abraham was thrown into a fiery furnace for his monotheistic beliefs—and miraculously survived. His faith, like a muscle, grew stronger with each challenge.

People who are tested will often say, “I never thought I could do that!” They are amazed at their own strength as they overcome the challenge. They look at their accomplishments as miraculous: “I’m naturally an impatient person; the fact that I became a patient parent is miraculous.”

Why does G‑d test us? The answer lies in the very word for “test,” “nes,” a word that means “miracle” as well. The test is there to bring out the miracle in you. To elicit strength that is uncharacteristic and unfamiliar. G‑d’s not ignoring you, He’s training you to be miraculous.

From the article Faith Under Fire, by Rochel Holzkenner, Chabad.org


Moshiach Thoughts

Overcoming impediments and obstructions

The Messianic redemption, including its highest stage, is inherent already, even now-indeed, ever since the exodus-except that it still needs to become manifest in our physical reality. Consciousness and realization of this fact makes it so much easier to overcome all and any impediments and obstructions, in this world in general, in the era of the galut (exile) in particular, and especially so nowadays, at the very end of the galut, when we are on the threshold of the Messianic age and Moshiach is about to come.

From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet


Have I Got A Story

Going the extra mile

To save a life, you go the extra mile. I saw this firsthand after learning that I had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). A group of five rabbis, most of whom didn’t really know me, took on the task of making sure my family was taken care of, and that I got the medical care I needed. Four years later, they are still there for us. And together with them, there are so many who have helped—financially, emotionally, showering us with love, meals and more.

It is a lesson we can learn from this week’s Torah reading, Vayeira, where G‑d tells Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorra. We read, “ . . . And Abraham was still standing before G‑d. And Abraham came forward and said, ‘Would You blot out the righteous along with the wicked?”

If Abraham was still standing before G‑d, why did he come forward?

Rashi explains that he didn’t come forward in a physical sense; he prepared himself emotionally to defend Sodom and Gomorra from annihilation. He approached the case in three ways: to argue harshly with G‑d, to appease Him and to pray to Him

We see that he did all three. First, speaking sternly, he said: “Would you blot out the righteous along with the wicked?!” In appeasement, he said: “It would be profane for You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are alike, that would be sacrilegious of you! Shall the Judge of the whole world not judge fairly!?” Then, in prayer, he said: “Behold I have begun to speak to my L‑rd, and I am dust and ashes.”

We are taught that Abraham manifested the attribute of loving kindness (chesed). In last week’s haftarah, G‑d even calls him, “Abraham my lover.” So it seems strange and out of character that Abraham opens his argument with stern words. Why doesn’t he begin with words of appeasement or prayer, and if that doesn’t work, then try stern words? That would be more in character with the Abraham we know. The difference is that there were lives on the line. The angel tasked with destroying Sodom and Gomorra was already on the way there. Abraham went against his nature and spoke sternly first, not making diplomatic calculations because lives were in the balance.

The stories of our forefathers are a lesson to us, his children. Just as we inherit from Abraham the kindness and the love that he had, we must be ready to take action when it is called for, as he did. When the well-being of another is on the line—whether it is his spiritual or physical well-being—it is not a time for calculations. It is a time for action, throwing yourself into the task with strong and effective action, even if it means going against your nature. To save a life, we go the extra mile.

To see the work of the children of Abraham in my life and the lives of my family is amazing, and we are so grateful. You have truly saved our lives. May the merits of the kindness and love that all of the Jewish people give be the mitzvah that tips the scale and sets in motion the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

By Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, The People Who Saved My Family, Chabad.org

Food For the Soul

Go For (and To) Yourself

In the Parsha, Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27 ) G‑d speaks to Abram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” According to the Zohar, the words lech lecha,  do not only mean “go for yourself,” but simultaneously mean “go to yourself.”

Writes Sara Esther Crispe in her article Pleased To Meet Me:  “And how do we go to ourselves, discover who we truly are? We need to leave our land, our birthplace and our father’s home…This doesn’t mean that we need to physically move or go anywhere (though for some that may be part of the process); but spiritually and emotionally, we need to meet ourselves all over again…We need to stop worrying about what the world wants from us, and start looking within, to our soul, to know what we want from ourselves, what our Creator wants from us…We must go from those whom we were raised with, our school systems, our communities, our friends and extended family. We must not allow their influences to get in the way of learning who we are truly meant to be.”

“And then, hardest but just as essential, we must go from our father’s home. We must recognize that as much as we may want to live in the very path that we were raised…we must choose it for ourselves. We must take ownership of this direction. It is then, and only then, that the new land is shown to us—our potential, our possibilities, and the world that awaits us. It is only then that we can progress, for we cannot move forward until we truly know who we are. This is how we lech lecha, go from ourselves, back to ourselves.”

“And we do this as Ivrim, as Jews, willing to stand on “the other side,” from the rest of the world, as those who will pursue truth and righteousness, even when popular view may greatly differ. The more we break those idols in our own world and the world around us, the stronger we can become. This is what Abraham teaches us. This is what it means to be a Jew—to swim against the current, reveal our G‑dly soul and our unique missions in this world—when we go from ourselves to ourselves, to discover and reveal our true essence.”


Shabbat Shalom

Why 2 candles on Shabbat?

Why do we light two candles on Shabbat? Our sages tell us that it represents husband and wife and the desire to bring peace and tranquility into the home. Another explanation is based on the Talmudic teaching that on Shabbat we receive an additional soul, which imbues us with an extra sense of holiness and spirituality throughout the day. The additional candle corresponds to the second soul.

However, the basic reason why we light two candles for Shabbat is that they correspond to the two forms of the mitzvah of Shabbat. In Exodus we are told, “Remember (zachor) the day of Shabbat and make it holy.” This encompasses all of the positive commandments associated with sanctifying Shabbat. In Deuteronomy we are instructed, “Keep (shamor) the day of Shabbat and make it holy.” This encompasses all of the negative prohibitions associated with Shabbat. To represent our acceptance of both aspects of Shabbat observance, we light two candles.

Based on an article by Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin


Mind Over Matter

Worry less

Work anxiety is a sign that you’ve invested too much into earning a living. It’s one thing to invest money and time, even skill and ingenuity. It’s another thing to invest your very essence and being. Your essence and being doesn’t do well working for a living. It doesn’t belong there. It belongs invested in the purpose of your work.

Stop and think: Why am I doing this? What is this money for? What is my real purpose, the reason my soul came into this world?

Find that purpose, and invest your heart, mind and soul into everything directly connected to it.

Yes, do your best at everything you do, but invest in those things at the core. Worry about them, and you’ll worry less about money.

By Rabbi Tzvi Freeman


Moshiach Thoughts

A reward of faith

Of the Messianic redemption it is written: “As in the days of your going out from the land of Egypt, I will show them wondrous things” (Michah 7:15). This means that it will be analogous to the redemption from Egypt: just as Israel was redeemed from Egypt as a reward for their faith, so too by virtue of our faith Moshiach will redeem us. Indeed, the Midrash (Shocher Tov,ch. 40) states that Israel is worthy of redemption as a reward for the kivuy (hoping for, and awaiting, the redemption). By virtue of Israel’s firm trust that “My salvation is near to come” (Isaiah 56:1), we shall merit that G‑d shall redeem us with the complete and ultimate redemption, speedily, in our very own days.

From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet


Have I Got A Story

Don’t Sweat It

Every rabbi has an airport story. In fact, some rabbis tell so many incredible stories of providential encounters on airplanes and in airports that I sometimes wonder if it is physically possible for them to have traveled on as many airplanes as they have stories!

Why am I talking about airplanes? Because this is the week of the Torah reading of Lech Lecha, when our father Abraham was instructed by G‑d to leave his birthplace and journey to a foreign land that would, one day, be promised to his children. Ever since then, the Jews have been a nation of wanderers. Our ancestors’ travels shaped our future destiny. Their journeys became our journeys. And the geographical upheavals the Jewish people have been subjected to over the centuries are mirror images of the footsteps of our forebears. Anyway, here is an airplane story of my own.

Some years back, I was traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town to join then President Nelson Mandela at a Banquet honoring South Africa’s late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and also to deliver a few lectures there at various synagogues. They say “getting there is half the fun,” but on this occasion nothing could have been further from the truth. First there was a system malfunction on the aircraft that caused a 30-minute delay. Then there was a missing passenger who delayed takeoff for a further three hours. Eventually, we landed after 10:00 pm and I missed the synagogue lecture that I was scheduled to give at 8:00 pm that evening.

And why might you be interested in my story? Because I found it fascinating to watch the reactions of the different passengers on the plane while we were waiting impatiently to take off. Some people got very angry. They were screaming and shouting and giving the poor flight attendants a very hard time. Others simply sulked in silence.

I couldn’t help thinking what a lesson this was on the subject of Divine Providence and who really runs the world. I had given myself ample time to get to my 8:00 pm lecture punctually. But clearly, G‑d had other plans. So who actually is in control? The best laid plans of men don’t necessarily get us to our destinations on time — even if we get to the airport early.

I could have become angry myself. I was very upset. It was quite a disappointment to have missed my lecture. Such a thing had never happened to me before. But my conscience was clear. I had left more than enough time to make it. The fact that I did not was not in my hands. I mean, who runs the world? The answer is, the One Above. If, for some reason known only to Him, He wants me not to give the 8:00 o’clock lecture, then no amount of huffing and puffing on my part will make one bit of difference. While pondering on this philosophical perspective, I found myself becoming more relaxed and actually quite serene about the whole frustrating experience. Yes, we must do our part; we must give it our best shot. But beyond that, it’s G‑d’s department.

If we can develop this attitude — and, believe me, I also need to develop it further — we will all be better able to cope with the disappointments we so often face in life, and even with real tzorres we may sadly encounter. It’s all in His hands. If he decided the plane would be delayed then there must be a good reason.

So even if nothing amazing occurred, I became far more aware that G‑d, and not I, is the controller of this universe. I may still have no idea why this delay was part of His vast eternal plan, but I do know that there was a reason. I may never discover what that reason was, but that there was a reason I am convinced.

When we understand this, we will have learned the art of acceptance. When we learn acceptance, we lead calmer, more tranquil lives, without all the unnecessary anxiety we create in our own minds. And I must admit it is a conviction which has helped me through many disappointments in my own life, from the small stuff to the more serious.

May all your journeys be safe and successful and may you get to your destinations on time. And even if you don’t, don’t sweat. He is in charge.

By Rabbi Yossy Goldman