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Friday, 2 September, 2022 - 4:56 am


Watch a moment of wisdom for this week's Torah portion👇👇👇



By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Something I learned last Shabbat has me ‘jumping for joy’ or even flying with euphoria the whole week and I would like to share it with you.

But first some background.

Sometimes to see the guiding ‘Hand of Hashem’ takes a long time. Like decades long.

Our daughter D evorah Leah got married to Shneor, a young man from Israel, several years ago. At the wedding, my father-in-law shared an interesting piece of information. He recounted that his mother, had nursed this young man’s grandfather back to health. He was recalling something that had taken place in the early 1940’s when they still lived in the Soviet Union.

In other words, seventy years before these two young people ever met, the groom’s grandfather had been saved by the bride’s great grandmother.

My wife’s grandmother ‘Bobbe Tzila’ was a young mother at that time. Her hands and schedule were more than filled to the brim, with caring for her own two children. Yet, when a frail young Yeshiva boy names Chatzkel, fell ill and there was no one to care for him, she selflessly brought him into her home.

Decades later it turns out that while she was fulfilling the great mitzvah of saving a life, she was also, unbeknownst to her, preparing the future husband for her great granddaughter.

I thought of this story because thank G-d our daughter Devorah Leah and her husband Shneor were blessed with a healthy baby daughter in Israel earlier this week.

It is uplifting when we sense, and even see, the Divine Providence as Hashem directs every aspect in His world. Albeit, sometimes it takes a little (or a long) while to see how things unfold and fall into place.

During this month of Elul, we talk about the acronym of Elul as spelling out

  אני לדודי ודודי לי  (Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li)

which translates ‘I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me’.

It is a verse from King Solomon’s Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs) and refers allegorically to each of us Jewish people and our relationship with G-d.

In simple English we could paraphrase it as ‘I love Hashem, and Hashem loves me’.

The great kabbalist the Arizal taught that in the month of Elul, ‘I (as in you, me, and all of our brethren), turn to my beloved’. i.e., each of us turns to G-d with love.

What causes us to love G-d?

One of the most potent ways of generating love within our hearts towards G-d is by sensing G-d’s nearness to us. By observing and seeing His Guiding Hand in the events unfolding around us, we naturally feel love towards Him.

If the Torah says that during this month every Jew turns to G-d with love, it must be that G-d sets the stage for this to happen.

The set-up for this to happen is via Hashem allowing us to see His Divine Providence in a more obvious way.

But while sometimes it takes decades to see the Providence of Hashem, there must also be more expeditious opportunities provided for pre-High-Holiday love for Hashem. During this month, in support of the love we are supposed to have for Him, Hashem prepares scenarios where we can see G-d’s Divine Providence in a more immediate way. And thus the love is generated naturally.

The Rebbe suggests this in a letter to someone at this time period in 1972. The Rebbe writes that since the month of Elul is a month in which we turn lovingly to G-d, it is clearly an opportune time to reflect more deeply on the Divine Providence taking place around us.

My understanding in reading this, is that obviously this is not only talking about the Divine Providence that takes decades (or centuries and millennia) to develop and become evident, rather this refers to ‘microwave’ and ‘supersonic age’ moments of Divine Providence that can provide immediate loving feelings toward G-d.

I discovered this letter from the Rebbe last Shabbat. Ever since, I have been blessed to see many instances of Divine Providence unfold in front of my very eyes.

A quick example from early Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting Israel. It was 2am, there was not a car on the road, and I had unknowingly taken a wrong turn. Google Maps (rightfully) took me 5km further on the rural road I was on. It then told me to turn right, and only then did I realize it had taken me there simply to make a U-turn in the parking lot. It ‘just so happened’ to be the parking lot of a business that is owned by someone I was very friendly with. He used to visit Thailand often. Over the past few years, he hasn’t traveled much and while I deeply cherish our friendship, our contact wasn’t that frequent. When Hashem (via Google) brought me to his parking lot, I made a commitment to call him at an earthly hour.

The next day we had a very nice chat.

Fast forward a bunch of days. Early this past Sunday morning I checked my email. Totally unexpectedly, my aforementioned business friend had sent a message instructing his financial office to send a generous donation for our Rosh Hashana programs.

I was elated. First of all, the financial help was very helpful. Secondly, it was uplifting to receive his help in such a gracious way. It was totally self-initiated and unexpected as I knew that his business was going through its own set of challenges and he was a bit stressed. It didn’t seem to me to be the time for him to give donations.

However, as he explained in the accompanying note:

Sometimes, when we are stressed, we are blind to others’ greater needs. I know that Rosh Hashana will be a challenge for you and I’m glad to be of a little help.

May you continue to enjoy good health and strength to carry out your very necessary work. 

But what really lifted me to the clouds was the obvious and open Divine Providence of this story. I thought I had driven 5kms out of my way. Hashem gave me the gift of showing me that He had taken me exactly where I needed to be, when I needed to be there.

It is my privilege and honor, that you are reading my words.

G-d has thus granted me the great pleasure of sharing with you, the gift that Hashem bestowed to me in placing this insight from the Rebbe before my eyes, and in a way that it grabbed my attention.

My week has been an uplifting and joyous one.

First of all, Nechama and I thank G-d for the most exquisite blessing in the world, a new healthy granddaughter. There is no greater miracle than the miracle of birth. It is just that we get used to miracles quite easily and we start to refer to them as ‘nature’. In truth, G-d’s Hand is clearly evident in the miracle of birth.

And I thank G-d for showing me so many other items of Divine Providence. From Torah insights that came my way in a Providential way. To phone calls that came exactly when they were most needed. Even delayed meetings that turned out to be much more effective because of the delay as new information was available that changed the nature of the meeting.

So many things that came together in a way that points to the Hand of G-d who is guiding and directing every single detail.

I am pointing all of this out, as these opportunities are available to you too. If you but open your eyes to look for it. I am confident saying this, as I am paraphrasing the words of our Torah Sages.

But don’t take my word for it. Now that you have learned that the month of Elul has special properties and allows for more obvious recognition and vision of Divine Providence, take a few moments to ‘smell the roses’ or in this case to reflect on G-d’s Guiding Hand in your very own life.

You don’t readily see the pattern of Divine Providence in your life?

Perhaps the following anecdote will be of help.

Professor Velve Greene ( A former Fulbright scholar and a pioneer in exobiology, Professor Velvl Greene spent years working for NASA searching for life on Mars. He continued to lecture right up until his passing in 2011) had his first private audience with the Rebbe in 1963. By this stage Professor Greene had come to learn of the Rebbe’s genius in Torah as well as science. He had learned of the Rebbe’s incredible leadership qualities. But now he was going to have his first personal meeting with the Rebbe.

He later described the encounter:

The Rebbe was so warm and welcoming,” he recalled of that first meeting. “He seemed more like a loving uncle than the spiritual leader of the Jewish world [that he was].”

They discussed the concept of Divine Providence, that “everything that a person sees or hears is designed by G‑d to bring us closer to Him.” The Rebbe told Greene that as a professor in a medical school and as a frequent traveler, he probably saw and heard things most people don’t experience.

“Why don’t you keep a journal, just a few notes at the end of the day, and see if you can find the divine message?” the Rebbe suggested. If he needed help finding the meaning, they could discuss it together.

 Anything I add will be superfluous.

But I can’t resist adding a little request if I may be so bold.

I love hearing stories of Divine Providence. If you do keep a journal, and notice a pattern of events that turns into a remarkable story, (and its not too personal to share), would you consider sharing it with me so I too can be inspired?

Shabbat Shalom

Shana Tova

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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