CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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By: Rabbi David Ashear

Shlomo Hamelech teaches (Mishlei 20:24), “A man’s steps are from Hashem; what does a person know about his way?” So often, we set out to do something, but end up doing something entirely different. Hashem places us in various situations that we never intended to be in, and we believe that everything is directed by Him. Often, this occurs in a concealed manner, through what appears to be natural means. The Hebrew word for nature, tevah, has the same numerical value as Elokim, the Divine Name that signifies Hashem’s power. Hashem uses the forces of nature to communicate with us and direct us to where we are supposed to go. As the Chazon Ish teaches us in his work Emunah U’Bitachon (Chapter 2), the obligation of bitachon includes the belief that there is no coincidence, nothing happens by chance, and everything is set and directed by the Almighty.

Many people desire to see Hashem in their lives. The truth is, He is in their lives, but they simply need to open their eyes and look more carefully. He communicates with us regularly to let us know that He is here, but generally in concealed ways.

I read a book that tells of a tzaddik who made a point of thanking Hashem for everything, for even the minor, everyday blessings in his life. The example mentioned in the book was a situation where a glass bottle fell but did not break. When this happened, the man made a point of saying “thank you” to Hashem. I wrote up a lesson mentioning other examples of similar situations, including where one is late for the train but manages to get on because it was delayed. When this happens, one should thank Hashem and acknowledge that this occurred because Hashem wanted it to occur.

Shortly thereafter I taught a Gemara class, and one of the men asked to share his experiences that day. He had to fly that day for a business meeting, and had a ticket for the return flight immediately after the meeting. However, his first flight was delayed, and he had no choice but to reschedule his meeting for several hours later than its original time. He realized there was no chance of making his return flight, and as the airline had only one return flight a day, he would not be able to return home that day. He did not want to stay overnight, but it seemed like there was no alternative.

After the meeting, however, he thought to himself how everything is in Hashem’s hands, and Hashem could find a way to get him home. He went to the airport and discovered that, sure enough, his return flight was delayed two hours. He got on the flight and thanked Hashem for His kindness.

Upon hearing the story, I said to the man, “That’s unbelievable! Just two hours ago I recorded this exact example, where somebody was late for the train but it was delayed.” The very next day, I was carrying a few goblets in my home, and one slipped out of my hands. It landed safely on my foot and did not break. I thanked Hashem, and then thought to myself, This is amazing – I just gave this exact example!

When things like this happen, it is Hashem communicating with us, letting us know that He is with us. Incidents like these occur all the time; we need only to open our eyes and recognize that everything is from Hashem.