If Only…

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RABBI DAVID ASHEAR

A sentence appears towards the end of the Shaar HaBitachon section of Chovot HaLevavot, which if we internalize and follow its message, could spare us a great deal of heartache and angst. It states, “The one who trusts [in Hashem] says: I never decided to do something and then wished I had done something else.”

When it comes to mundane matters, everything is under Hashem’s complete control. If a person purchases a car, and the next day he hears of a better deal on a nicer car, he might say to himself, I should never have bought this car. What a mistake! I hate this car. I could’ve done so much better! But one who trusts in Hashem, recognizes that Hashem did not grant him access the previous day to the information he now has about the other car, and so the vehicle he purchased is the one Hashem decided he should have, for his benefit. He is therefore perfectly content and happy with his purchase.

Likewise, if a person bought a house and soon after learned about a larger house in the same neighborhood with more sunlight and a driveway, which was selling for the same price, will not regret his purchase if he lives with genuine bitachon. He will realize

that Hashem did not allow him to know about this larger house because, in His infinite wisdom, He knew it was best for this person to live in the house he purchased.

This is even true about marriage. If soon after his wedding a man has second thoughts and begins asking himself why he married this woman, wondering if perhaps he made a mistake, he must recognize that these thoughts are instruments of the yetzer hara, evil inclination, which is trying to ruin his life. When he got engaged and married, he was thinking very clearly and it made perfect sense to him. Hashem guided him to that girl and made sure everything would work out so they would get married. He should not regret it now, after the fact, once he is married.

Of course, in situations where something can still be done to improve a person’s condition, he must make an effort to do so. But once the situation is finalized and nothing can be done to change it, he should feel confident and happy knowing that Hashem guided him to make the decision that ultimately works out to his greatest benefit.

Two years ago, a man by the name of Moe* told me the following story:

Every year, he would spend the summer with his family at a camp in upstate New York where he held a certain position, in exchange for which he received room and board for his family and free camp for his children.

During the winter of that year, Moe was not well and decided to take some time off to relax and recuperate. He phoned the camp’s owner and informed him that he would not be joining them that summer.

Toward the end of the school year, though, he felt much stronger and decided he would be able to assume his regular position. Moreover, his family was very disappointed at the prospect of not spending the summer in camp.

Moe called the camp, but the owner informed him that someone else had already accepted his position for that summer. He endured a great deal of heartache and frustration over the decision he had made. “What was I thinking?” he asked himself repeatedly. “Why did I give this up?”

He needed to internalize the words of the Chovot HaLevavot – One who trusts in Hashem never regrets a decision he made. During the winter, he felt he would be unable to handle the summer job. Hashem knew the future, and He certainly knew that Moe would feel better by the summer. Yet, He did not put the thought in Moe’s mind that he might feel stronger in a couple of months, and that his family would be very disappointed if they did not spend summer in camp. Hashem knew what was best for him, and so he was led to make this decision.

At this point, when there was nothing more he could do, Moe should have acknowledged that Hashem’s will was for his family not to spend the summer in camp, and make the most of this situation.

Hashem is in full control of our lives. He arranges the situations that He knows will be best for us. We need to trust Him and feel perfectly at ease knowing that He is directing us, He knows our thoughts and feelings, He knows the future, and He always puts us exactly where we need to be.