Finding Eternal Lessons in Everyday Events Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz
When people want to build muscles, they often engage in strength training. They utilize resistance to build strength, endurance, and muscle size. Part of the training is doing sets of exercises with a certain number of repetitions. By forcing the muscles to fight the resistance over and over, the muscles grow and get stronger. Watch out, though, because poor form can result in injury or an inability to meet your training goals.
This method doesn’t only work for your physical body. It works for your spiritual and emotional self as well. We frequently face challenges, setbacks, and disappointments in life which are Hashem’s way of building our strength. By using them properly, we can become stronger.
The Vilna Gaon says that if one finds himself stumbling in a particular sin over and over again, it is a sign that this is what they were put here on Earth to overcome. A person may constantly face the same challenge or the same situation that never works out because they need to develop the proper response to it and build the muscles needed to handle it differently.
One thing tested frequently is our faith that Hashem is running the world. Things happen that are beyond our control, and we get upset about them. In actuality, we should remember the hashgachah pratis, the micromanagement of our lives (in a positive way), that Hashem introduces into our daily routines.
Proper form when things don’t go as we would like is to remember that though it may not be as we want it, it is as Hashem wants it. Poor form is to be upset and feel cheated out of whatever it is that was important to us. We all know the stories of people who were upset about missing a flight and then the plane crashed. Only when the good comes to light do we “forgive” Hashem and let Him off the hook. That’s still bad form. So, what is good form?
Recently, a cousin asked to come for Shabbos. We were very excited as he’s a very pleasant and happy young man, and we enjoy his company just as he enjoys ours. I was planning to drive the 35 to 40 minutes to Passaic to pick him up from his aunt’s home where most of his family were visiting, but then it turned out that his brother had to take a train from New Jersey to where he was going for Shabbos. Perfect!
There was a train that would get our cousin to the station near our home at 1:30. Being a winter Shabbos, when candlelighting was shortly after 4, that gave us plenty of time. At least it would have, had they not missed that train. They had had trouble figuring out where to park, and by the time they did, the train had left a few moments before.
His father asked me about the next train which arrived at 2:48. Did that work? It did! It would still give us over an hour at home before Shabbos. So, the boy got on the train and headed out Monsey way! I was just getting ready to leave my house to pick him up when I got a call from an unfamiliar number. The boy had borrowed a cell phone from another passenger to call and tell me that the train was stuck. What?! Oh no. But don’t worry, there’s still enough time. Call me in ten minutes to let me know what’s happening.
When he called back, they hadn’t moved, and they were waiting for a rescue train. I called the Transit Authority and was told the train should arrive at our station at 3:45. That was too close. The next time he called, I told my cousin to get off at the next stop, and his father picked him up. They made it back to his aunt’s home with barely enough time grab a quick shower before Shabbos. We were very disappointed. “How did this happen?!” And here’s where our “train”-ing got real.
We started going over all the things we might have done differently. In each case, we realized that it was Divinely orchestrated because if we had it to do over without the benefit of knowing the train would break down, our decisions would have been the same.
Once we knew that, we could imagine the reason Hashem wanted it this way. Maybe there would have been a problem if he’d come to the house. Maybe he would see someone in Passaic and in a few years, they’d think of him for a shidduch. It doesn’t matter WHY Hashem made things turn out this way. What mattered was that we strengthened our conviction that it was Hashem running the show.
Not only did we exercise our bitachon and strengthen it, but we were much less disappointed and upset because we reminded ourselves that though we might not be able to see it, there was undoubtedly a light at the end of the tunnel.
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