Maybe G-d Wants Differently?
By Larry Fine
One time in old Poland, lived a Chassid, a Jew who followed the teachings and mystical aspects of worship according to the Baal Shem Tov. Each Chassid has a Rebbe, a distinguished rabbi who is knowledgeable not only in the legal aspects of Jewish law, but also in the spiritual relms. The Rebbies were saintly men, who possessed "ruach haKodesh", an ability to divine the spirituality in the world, and through this, the Rebbe was able to answer the Chassid's most difficult questions and provide him with flawless instruction in all matters of worldly needs. Therefore, whenever a Chassid has a problem or a decision to make, he consults with his Rebbe.
Our Chassid is now at his Rebbe's house. He is sitting in the privacy of his Rebbe's inner room. The room reserved for private audiences with the Chassidim. Our Chassid is crying to his Rebbe uncontrollable and telling his Rebbe of his life's tragedies.
The man sobbed to his Rebbe, "Rebbe, I was the top bachur (student) in the Yeshiva (Talmudical Seminary). When I came of age to get married, my rosh yeshiva (head of the talmudical seminary) was approached by a g'vir (wealthy man) who wanted the top learner in the yeshiva for his daughter. The rosh yeshiva selected me as the top candidate."
The g'vir gave me a rigorous test and I passed it. None of my classmates could even come close to my knowledge and learning abilities. I met the g'vir's daughter and we liked each other. With the help of my rosh yeshiva, we struck a marital arrangement with the g'vir, He was to buy for us a modest house and to support us as I continued my learning. With the help of my wealthy father-in-law, I was to become a rosh yeshiva after I completed my learnings.
"We had a beautiful wedding and lived happily for the first several years. With in the space of a few years, my wife was blessed with several children and my learning reached great success. My wife was happy, my father-in-law was pleased, my rosh yeshiva was delighted with my progress and I was certain that soon, with my father-in-law's help, I would go out to open up my own yeshiva."
Then misfortune stuck and hit us very hard. First my father-in-law's business began to totter. His investments lost heavily, and his business sales were low. Large loans that he had taken to make investments were due and his debts soon amassed. Not only did his business collapse, but he was left heavily in debt. His creditors took all that he possessed and left him a broken man. He suffered a heart attack and died, leaving a penniless widow."
At the same time, my wife had a very difficult child birth leaving her paralyzed, and very sick and in need of expensive medicine and medical care. I had no money to pay for the doctors, so I began to borrow money. My wife needed intensive care, she was unable to look after our brood of youngsters, and with no money coming in and my own personal debts massing up, I was forced to leave the yeshiva to seek a job."
I, being untrained, at first could not find a decent paying job. First I looked for jobs as tutors, but there was not enough money in doing that. The frequency of that work made it difficult to exist. I had to hire myself out as a day laborer doing whatever odd tasks were available, hauling, cleaning, digging, etc. Soon I found myself working from sunrise to beyond sunset, and at night in the house, I was trying to care for my ailing wife and help my children."
The humility and indignation of working as a common laborer for me is most difficult, but I hardly make enough money to exist through the week. I am so tired that even on the holy Sabbath I can not return to my studies. I do not get more than five hours of sleep at night and my davening (daily prayer service) is said with out any concentration or mental alertness, but only quickly and with out meaning, because my mind is anxious that I may get out to find more work."
At this point in his story, the man put his head into his arms and sobbed. "I was such a devoted servant to G-d and now look at me- I am nothing! What kind of service can I give to G-d now? When I was studying, I was able to understand so much. I reached such heights in thought and contemplation. Now my mind is like a rag, worn from over work. Now, I am nothing! Oh, that I could only return to my studies. Then I could service G-d with so much more devotion."
As the man continued his crying and sobbing, the Rebbe took out his pipe and lit it. He waited for the man to stop his sobbing. As the man gained back his composure, he looked up at the Rebbe and asked, "Why do I have such problems, would G- d not have preferred me to have become a rosh yeshiva than a common laborer? Is that not fitting for me?"
As the man gazed at his Rebbe, waiting for a response. The Rebbe puffed on his pipe and as he exhaled the smoke, he began to speak, "What makes you think that G-d would be happy with you as a rosh yeshiva, perhaps G-d is happy with as you struggle to balance your troubles?"
We must understand this Chassidic story. Chassidic story come to illustrate important concepts.
What is concept here that is employed when the Rebbe answers his poor Chassid?
The truth of the matter is that we can never fathom G-d's desires. We know that He wants us to involve our lives in study and performance of the Torah and its commandments. However, he creates each person as a separate individual. Some he creates smarter than others, and other are duller than others. Some are born with rich parents and others with poor parents. Some are strong and healthy and others are by nature weak.
The characteristics with which we are created are as much in accordance to the will of G-d as is the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Both our mental, emotional makeup, our parentage is chosen specifically for us, as is the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
G-d sets the stage, he writes the scripts and provides the actors, and gives us our part in the world. We can not choose to be other than what we are and the circumstances in which we exist.
What G-d gives us to choose, however, is how we play the part. Do we accept G-d's decrees with love even when they are unfavorable, and even not pleasant? Or are we thankful only when G-d gives us exactly that which we want.
Although we must exert ourselves to change our circumstances, to improve our lives, yet we must accept that what we can not change is really heavenly decreed. We must realize that when we can not change our circumstances, that perhaps G-d himself wills that we suffer, and we must accept it with love realizing that we can not understand G-d's ways. Or do we kevetch and complain, exhibiting ourselves as unsatisfied with G-d's running of the world?
The bottom line: it is not the role we play in life that gives us our reward in the next world, but rather, how we play the role given to us, and how much we are thankful to the Producer for letting us in the play. This is what gives us our final reward in the next world.
from the June 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine