it doesn't always (seem to) work out

Friday, 10 June, 2022 - 2:13 am

 By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I usually try to share with you the amazing workings of Divine Providence. It never ceases to amaze me how the guiding Hand of Hashem is to be found in every fiber of creation.

For example, yesterday. I was debating if I should go to visit a person in hospital whom I had visited just the day before. He was doing very well, and they were talking about releasing him any day. I thought my further visit may be redundant at this stage. When I saw the number 1213 on a license plate of a car as I was walking down Sukhumvit Soi 22, and this was the exact number of the hospital room, I sensed that this was a ‘message’ to visit the patient. When I walked into room 1213, the patient’s wife started referring to the medical challenge that had just occurred. She thought that I had heard of the setback they experienced earlier that morning and that is why I came. When I told them that I hadn’t heard anything, rather it was Hashgacha Pratit (Divine Providence) that sent me, they were emotional and thankful to the Almighty for His kindness.

But today I want to share that things don’t always ‘work out’ so neatly. Sometimes I am left pondering why things that in my opinion ‘shouldn’t have happened’ happened. I am staying far away in this article from the big and painful questions. That’s a totally different topic and I obviously do not have an answer to why ‘bad’ things happen to good people. Allow me to focus here today on mildly irritating things. Problems that themselves are a product of great blessings.

Like missing a flight. The mere fact that we can fly by air from one part of the world to the other is a luxury that is an indication of our blessed times. But it can create a new set of problems. For example, it can be aggravating when you check in online and the boarding gate is changed without you noticing it.

This happened to me when I was flying from Toronto to New York. The day trip I had planned was proceeding with incredible success. I flew from NY to Toronto in the morning. No delays. Smooth border crossings. Picked up at the airport by a good friend. Went to say a prayer at the grave of Gerry Sugar, who had lived and worked in Thailand. Our friendship brought him back to his family and Jewish observance and upon his passing he was buried near his parents in Toronto.

Let me digress with a quick story about Gerry and how our friendship deepened. Gerry came to see in the 1990’s when he was unemployed and looking for work. It just so happened that I had just received a fax (in the pre-email days) from a food importer in the USA who I didn’t recognize. They were looking for someone to help them import kosher food from Thailand to the USA. Gerry, in telling me his work experience had mentioned that he had worked for a food exporter for a stint. I gave Gerry the fax and told him to see if he could help them. It turned out that this was one of the major kosher food distributors in the USA. Gerry proceeded to work with them and both sides were very happy. How blessed I felt to be able to help both parties by simply connecting them with each other. And through that, I was able to help Gerry reconnect to G-d and his family as well.

After leaving a stone on Gerry’s grave, I made some visits to supporters of our work – may they live and be well -  and then proceeded to the airport to head back to NY.

Everything went with such smoothness, I got to the gate early. It made sense to me that everything was gliding along. After all I was doing G-d’s work. I sat down at the gate, caught up with my daily Torah studies and then I went to see why my flight was not boarding yet. To my shock, the gate said that the flight was going to San Fransisco. I was going to NY. The gate had changed unbeknownst to me. I had missed my NY flight.

I was overwhelmed at my sheer oversight and inattentiveness. To complicate matters the next flight to NY had been cancelled. It seemed like I may be stranded in Toronto overnight while I had work to do in NY the next morning. I felt hopelessly out of control. It took me a few minutes to remind myself to have complete faith in G-d. I told myself ‘Calm down. Hashem is in charge. Everything is for the good’. I did a little song and dance (not sure what the people around me thought) to make sure that every part of my body remembered that ‘its all for the good’ because ‘G-d is in charge’. Then things started to work out. I managed to make a new ticket. Granted, my car was in La Guardia airport and my new flight was landing in Newark. Never mind that I wouldn’t get back ‘home’ till way after midnight. But at least I wasn’t stranded overnight in Canada and was able to get back to NY.

I searched for meaningful things that may have happened due to this revision in my schedule. I can’t say I have pinpointed anything in particular. I am left in the dark as to what Hashems intention was for my adventure.

Not always does Hashem give us the great gift of seeing why things happen the way they do.

One thing is for certain though. G-d is in charge both in the short term and in the long term. So, even if Hashem does want to show us the rhyme and reason in what happened, it may take a long time for things to become apparent.

(Was it perhaps to give me a chance to exercise the muscle of faith in Hashem? Or will I discover another reason one day).

This weeks Torah portion gives us a very strong clarity about this point. Hashem is in charge of things in the short term and in the long term.

G-d told Moshe to instruct Aharon and his sons in the details of giving the Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing).

The first passage of the blessing is:

יברכך השם וישמרך

‘May God bless you and watch over you’

On the words ‘bless you’ Rashi comments ‘that your possessions shall be blessed’.

On the words ‘watch over you’ Rashi comments: ‘that no thieves shall attack you and steal your money. For when one gives his servant a gift, he cannot protect it from all other people, so if robbers come and take it from him, what benefit has he [the servant] from this gift? As for the Holy One, blessed be He, however, He is the One who [both] gives and protects.

In other words, the uniqueness of G-d’s blessing is that He continues to protect and administer the blessing for the long term as well.

Humans cannot control what happens after they have given a gift.

It may be stolen. It may be abused and misappropriated.

With Hashem this is not the case.

Hashem remains in control.

Hashem sees and manages the totality of creation from the beginning of time and forever.

When Hashem gives a blessing, he can continue to ensure the viability of this blessing even when it looks tenuous.

Why we sometimes see the blessing, while other times the blessing is hidden, this is from the great mysteries of G-d’s world that we are not privy to.

One thing is for certain.

The greatest source of blessing is following the directions that G-d has instructed.

Torah and Mitzvahs these are the conduits for blessing.

And of course, the precondition for blessing is the fulfillment of the  most central mitzvah: ‘love your fellow as yourself’. Or to phrase it differently, ‘don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you’.

On some level, we all have the power to bless others.

Let us use this power of blessing to bless each other and to bless the world with SHALOM – PEACE.

With the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days NOW. AMEN!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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