Rabbi David Ashear
The more we recognize how kind Hashem is, the happier we will be. Everything that happens to us is a manifestation of Hashem’s kindness, but we aren’t always capable of understanding how. But if we realize just how small we are in comparison to Hashem, how His plan for us and the world is so far beyond the limits of our understanding, we will be able to trust that everything He does is an act of kindness.
David HaMelech says (Tehillim 23:1) “Hashem is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Rav Chaim of Volozhin explained that there are times when sheep want to run about freely to the neighboring hills and fields, but the shepherd comes with his rod and does not permit them to do so. The sheep might regard the shepherd as being malicious and cruel by restricting their movement, but this is not the case. The shepherd cares about his flocks, and he knows that there is plenty of grass and water where the sheep are now, whereas if they run for two hours over the hills, they will find themselves famished and thirsty in a place with nothing to eat or drink. He knows something that they do not, and thus although it seems to them that he is heartless, in truth he is extending his kindness to them. David HaMelech describes himself as a sheep shepherded by Hashem, Who knows how to care for us far better than we know how to care for ourselves, and therefore we always know that we are not lacking, that we have precisely what we need. David recognizes that Hashem makes him stay in the meadows, where there is “grass,” and does not let him run free to places where he would not have what he needs.
At other times, the sheep are tired and want to rest, but the shepherd forces them to move to a different location. Once again, it seems that he is bothering them and needlessly denying them the rest they crave. In truth, however, the shepherd knows that the sheep had depleted the water resources in their current locale, and they will soon be thirsty. He prods them to move in order to bring them to a place where they have the water they will need.
Later (ibid. 23:4) in this chapter David says, “Even as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for You are with me.” Since he realizes that Hashem is always caring for him as a shepherd cares for his flock, he has no reason to fear when the situation looks bleak, because he knows with certainty that Hashem is looking out for him.
A businessman told me that he had a long-standing account with a large chain store. The store had nine slots for the product that this businessman’s company supplied, and his company was given six of them. One day, the store hired a new buyer, and when the man met with the buyer to see what he would be ordering for the upcoming season, the buyer said he was not ordering anything. The man was stunned. He told the buyer that the company had been doing business with them for years, and the product always sold well. When the buyer couldn’t be persuaded, the man scheduled a dinner meeting with the buyer’s Supervisor. He respectfully inquired as to why for years the store had been purchasing $3 million in merchandise and now they’re not ordering anything. The Supervisor said he’d think it over, and he called back a few days later to say that they are not overturning the decision, in order not to challenge the new buyer. The man then contacted the president of the company, but to no avail.
He turned to Hashem and said, “I don’t understand. Why am I going from 3 million dollars to nothing?”
A few months later the news broke that this chain store – Caldor – was filing for bankruptcy and couldn’t pay off its debt to its suppliers. The businessman again turned to Hashem and said, “Now I understand. You didn’t take away $3 million – You saved me $3 million!
Even when the situation looks bleak – we have no reason to fear, for we know that Hashem is looking out for us.