To Feast or to Fast… THAT is the Question!

An installment in the series

From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School

-For series introduction CLICK

 By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz-Mara D’Asra Cong Sfard of Midwood

 It (Yom HaKipurim) is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you and a day when you must afflict your souls. You must keep this Sabbath from the ninth of the month until the next night.  

-VaYikra 23:32

Chiya bar Rav of Difti taught: “and …you must afflict your souls…[on the] ninth of the month” Do we begin fasting on the ninth?  [In truth] we don’t fast until the tenth! Here, the Torah is teaching us that all who eat and drink on the ninth are considered to have fasted on both the ninth and the tenth.

-Yoma 81B

On the tenth day of the seventh month you must afflict your souls and not do any melacha…This is because on this day you shall have all your sins atoned to purify you. Before Hashem you will be purified of all your sins.

-VaYikra 16:29, 30

There is a lot of conflicting data on the subject of the Torahs attitude towards asceticism.  On the one hand, Shabbos the basis of sanctified time, is identified with pleasure “And call Sabbath pleasure” (Yeshaya 58:13 ) and the entire chapter of Yeshaya 58 takes a rather dim view of fasting unless it is coupled with social justice. On the other hand, the very holiest time, the Sabbath of Sabbaths is a fast day.  The Nazir, who abstains from the fruit of the vine, is called both holy (BeMidbar 6:8) and sinful (Nedarim 10A) as is one who engages in voluntary fasts (Ta’anis 11A). The place of eternal rewards is called “the Garden of Delights”, but the delights there are of a decidedly non-physical variety; “the righteous sit with their heads crowned and bask in the radiance of the Shechina-the Divine indwelling”

In practical terms this quandary is most pronounced on the 9th and 10th days of Tishrei when the day of feasting that precedes the Day of Atonement and self-denial is reckoned as a day of fasting as well.

The often irresistible lure of this-worldly pleasures is, arguably, the major contributing factor to sin and its concomitant impurities. As such, there is a compelling logic to how abstaining from of this-worldly pleasures would help us attain the contrary outcome of decontamination.  As the Pesukim (VaYikra 16:29, 30) state: “afflict your souls …to purify you! “  However, as Rav Leibeleh Eiger explains, HaShem desires to sublimate everything (in his parlance to “sweeten” everything). Eating and drinking are the general categories under which all the temporal desires and delights fall.  HaShem wants all of these to be sanctified as well.  Holy self-gratification may sound like an oxymoron. But since our only will is to fulfill His will and “we cast that which weighs us down upon Him” He then “sustains us” with spiritual nourishment. (Tehilim 55:23). When we eat on Erev Yom Kippur in order to fulfill HaShems Mitzvah, eating becomes a catalyst for purity identical to the mortifications of Yom Kippur itself.

The Mohn-Manna Bread provides an intriguing precedent for this counterintuitive concept. The Torah states that the Mohn was like a “honey doughnut” (Shemos 16:31). Per Chaza”l diners tasted every flavor that they could imagine emanating from the Mohn (Yoma 75A). Moreover, the clouds that showered down the Mohn sprinkled pearls and jewels as well (ibid). The impression one gets is that the Mohn delighted all the senses. Yet the Torah describes the Mohn experience as one of mortification and affliction (Devarim 8:2, 3). Cognizant of the one-day-only supply of Mohn we can well imagine the anxious longing with which the Jews in the wilderness anticipated its daily arrival. The take away lesson for all generations of Jews from this Hedonistic-Ascetic hodgepodge is that we should yearn for HaShems salvation and be totally reliant on Him for both the eating and the abstention from eating. The feasting and the fasting are both only done to fulfill His will.

The verse: “Before Hashem you will purified of all your sins” implicitly alludes to Erev Yom Kippur. “Before HaShem” meaning feasting on the day before HaShem’s great and awesome day, Yom Kippur, will purify and decontaminate of your souls just as the fasting on Yom Kippur itself does.

Rav Tzadok, the Lubliner Kohen,  taught that whenever a Jew consumes food as a Mitzvah the food contains the flavor of Mohn which is the bread of the ministering angels and, as such, it is the flavor of other-worldly pleasure, the taste  of the radiance of the Shechina.  The topic of Mohn appears in the chapter entitled Yom HaKipurim in tractate Yoma because Mohn consumption is exactly like fasting on Yom Kippur the point of both activities being to experience spiritual gratification by absconding from the temporal pleasures of the physical world. When the Gemara says “all who eat and drink on the ninth are considered to have fasted on both the ninth and the tenth“  it is not because eating on the 9th  is like fasting but rather because fasting on the 10th is a different kind of eating, a spiritual angelic ingestion.  On Yom Kippur we dress, stand, go barefoot and wear white like angels.  We fast and are at peace with one another like angels. On Erev Yom Kippur we eat like the nullivore angels dining on “the grain of heaven and the bread of the mighty” (Tehilim78: 24, 25).

 Adapted from Toras Emes Erev Yom Kippur 5625-1865 A.C.E. (page 57)

and Machshevos Chorutz 12 (page 95)

Moving from “Miracles” to “Hashgacha Pratis” – Reflections on the Lessons of Operation Cast Lead

Moving from “Miracles” to “Hashgacha Pratis”
Reflections on the Lessons of Operation Cast Lead

by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis
(based on a shiur heard from HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita, Ravad of Yerushalayim, leil Shabbos Parshas Shemos in Beis Keneses HaGra, Har Nof.)

Victors in Battle
The War in Gaza appears to be drawing to a close. The enemy has sustained a serious blow to its infrastructure, but their leadership and ultimate goal of destroying the Jewish People remain intact. Although the Israeli military forces can hardly claim victory, a major battle has definitely been fought and won; and that is, the knowledge that Hashem alone runs the world.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will make mention of the name of Hashem” (Tehillim 20,8). The enemy has fired enough deadly missiles to, chas vashalom, wipe out large numbers the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem’s Name was sanctified among the many faithful Jews who have turned to him in their hour of need, and He answered us with open miracles, a sign of clear victory in the battle before the coming of moshiach.

The Sifrei Musar tell the story of a band of soldiers on their way home from a glorious battle who meet an elderly rav. Instead of congratulating them on their victory, the rabbi surprises them with his remark: “While you have won a minor war, the major one still lies ahead. Combat with flesh-and-blood soldiers is easy compared to the war with the yatzer hara which rages constantly throughout a person’s life.”

Whatever the outcome of the Gaza conflict, each of us will find that our own personal war with the yatzer hara will rage on. The front-line in this war is our emunah, which he is actively trying to undermine. The newspapers have reported so many miracles over the past few weeks that they have almost become mundane. How can we ensure that the true message of this war will be make a lasting impression on our hearts?

The answer is that we must stop using the word “miracle” and start referring to “hashgacha pratis” (personal Divine Supervision). A miracle is a remote concept that does not obligate us to make real changes in our lives. The recognition of hashgacha pratis, however, is one of the fundamental principles of the Jewish faith, and entails an obligation to seriously reconsider our outlook on life.

“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His name, creates and guides all creatures, and that He alone made, makes and will make everything” (1st of the 13 Ikrim). Seemingly, every mitzvah of the Torah can be considered ikrim, fundamental. What is so special about these thirteen?

Rav Chaim Brisker explains that a person who does not believe in hasgacha pratis or any of the other ikrim has crossed a red line and is no longer considered part of Klal Yisrael. Similarly, the Ramban writes at the end of Parshas Bo, “Anyone who does not believe that there is no such thing as ‘nature’ and doesn’t realize that everything is hashgacha pratis and Divinely guided, does not have a portion in Toras Moshe.” hashgacha Pratis is the foundation of our relationship with Hashem and His Torah.

A Knock on the Door
“My Beloved is knocking saying, ‘Open to Me, my sister, my love'”… (Shir HaShirim 5,2). Over 1,000 missiles have been fired at us from Gaza. Hashem intended every one of them as a wake-up call to us, to arouse us from our slumber to an active awareness of His Providence. They were His way of ‘knocking on the door’ and letting us know that the end of days is approaching.

Even though this war took place in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem wants this message to be heard around the world. In recent months, He has toppled global financial markets and massive amounts of wealth have disappeared without a trace. Economists are baffled but the meaning is clear to all believing Jews – Hashem is knocking on our doors and begging us to stop relying on other sources of power. He alone should be our source of security.

“Hashem is lifted up above all of the nations, His glory is in the Heavens” (Tehillim 113,4). Dovid Hamelech reveals to us the fundamental difference between Hashem’s relationship with the Jewish people and with the other nations of the world. While non-Jews view Hashem as too exalted to get involved with their personal lives, Jews proclaim, “Who is like Hashem Elokeinu, who is enthroned on high yet looks down to behold the mundane matters in the physical world (ibid. 113,5).”

Although Hashem is the unchallenged ruler and creator of the whole universe, this does not stop Him from getting involved with every single detail of a Jew’s life, no matter how trivial or unpleasant. “He raises up the poor from the dust heaps, and the destitute from the lowest grime” (ibid. 113,6). He rules the entire universe – yet the true mark of His greatness is His humility. It’s his care for every detail of every Jew’s life that characterizes him as a loving Father.

When a Jew davens, he should feel Hashem is with him. He has to know that every single word of his prayers is heard, and that every thought that is passes through his mind is noted. This is all part of Ikrei Emunah, and hashgacha pratis is first of the 13 Ikrim.

Chazal tell us that if we do not recognize Hashem’s Prescience in our lives He will send upon us a “cruel king like Haman.” We have the capability to save ourselves from a terrible fate. We must replace take the word “miracle” out of our vocabulary and replace it with hashgacha pratis.

Although the obligation to see Hashem in our lives is borne by every Jew, it is especially crucial for Roshei Yeshivos, Rabbanim and Mechanchim of both boys and girls, to relay this message to their students. If the Zohar tells us that when people discuss hashgacha pratis, Hashem gathers all of the melachim to hear, it is certainly a good use of our time to speak about it as much as possible. In doing so, we will make Hashem a very real part of our daily lives, and awaken an awareness of His hashgacha pratis in our hearts.

Hastening Redemption
Sefer Daniel describes the bitter tribulations that Klal Yisrael will suffer during the times of moshiach. Yet in Sefer Yeshiyah (60,22) the pasuk says “I, Hashem, will hasten it in it’s time.” The Chasam Sofer explains that if we merit Geula, Hashem will hasten it, If not, we will have to wait for the time and the circumstances that accompany this day.

“Unless You have utterly rejected us, and are extremely angry with us, Turn to us Hashem and we shall return, renew our days as of old” (Eichah 4:22 – 23). The Yeshuas Yaakov offers a beautiful explanation of these verses.

When someone is disgusted with his friend, he cuts off all ties with them and has nothing to do with them. On the other hand, if he instead expresses his anger and disappointment to his friend, this is a sign that he still hopes to continue the relationship in the future. If we see that Hashem “is extremely angry with us” and as a result has punished us, it is a sign that He still loves us and wants us “to return to Him as in the days of old ” when we were free of transgression.

We can best understand the situation of the Jewish people today through its parallel to a famous story of a tzadik who davened and toiled all his days for the redemption of the Jewish people. He vowed that when his soul left the world that he would shake the heavens until moshiach would finally come and finally put an end to the suffering of Klal Yisrael. Yet after his death, moshiach still did not come.

The tzadik was granted permission to come back to this world and appear to his friend in a dream. He explained that we live in such times of darkness, every mitzvah that we does has incalculable merit, and is extremely precious in Hashem’s eyes. From his new vantage point in Shamayim, he understood that the suffering of his fellow Jews was cherished by Hashem because it did not shake their commitment to serving Him.

We must hold on just a bit longer, and keep performing Hashem’s mitzvos faithfully, while strengthening our recognition of His hashgacha pratis. In this way, we will surely merit to hasten the arrival of the moshiach, amen.

Rabbi Travis is a Rosh Kollel in Yerushalayim and is the author of Shaylos U’Teshuvos Toras Chaim and “Praying With Joy – A Daily Tefilla Companion” a practical daily guide to improving one’s prayers, available from Feldheim Publishers.

Dealing With Doubts on the Teshuva Process

I recently read a D’var Torah that really spoke to me. Part of it focused on Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25: 17-19

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt. That he encountered you on the way and cut off those lagging to your rear, when you were tired and exhausted; he did not fear G-d. Therefore… you must obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget.”

It then brought us back to Shemoth (Exodus) 17:1-8, when the Jewish people just left Egypt and camped in Rephidim. There was no water to drink. The people questioned “Is G-d in our midst or not?” This was right after departing Egypt, after the 10 plagues, the miracle of the parting of the Reed Sea, etc. After such miraculous events, how could they question “Is G-d with us?” Moses is so annoyed that he names the place “Challenge and Strife.” Then, right after the Jews showed doubt in Hashem, the nation of Amalek attacked from the rear, picking out the weakest and destroying them.

Next, the D’var torah pointed out that the Hebrew word for doubt (safek) has a gematria, or numerical value of 240. This is the same numerical value for Amalek. And when words have the same value, it shows they are interconnected. Thus the fight against Amalek can also be seen as a fight against doubt.

For me as someone trying to become more observant, this is something I constantly face. Why do I try so hard to keep kosher? It would be so much easier for me if I went back to only keeping kosher in the home, but eating anything, or even just “vegetarian” outside the home. Why do I bother being Shomor Shabbos? Does it really make that much of an impact that I don’t check my email, or watch TV? After all, I survived for many years not keeping it. Why keep struggling?

And the biggest doubt of all. Why am I becoming observant at all? Is it really worth doing? Who the heck am I doing it for anyway? Does G-d really care what I do? Little ol’ me? After all, I’m just a speck in the grand scheme of everything.

The D’var torah ends by talking about how to defeat Amalek, and thus doubt. It points out that Amalek is irrational and counterintuitive. To overcome him, we need Faith/Emunah. It is not something we develop, but rather it’s something already inside of us that needs to be unveiled.

And subconsciously, that’s what I’ve been using most of the time to quell these doubts. I’m doing it because I’m seeing the truth in the Torah, and how it relates to all people, even little ol’ me. And if that’s true, then the Torah as a whole shouldn’t be treated as a “Chinese Menu” (e.g. I’ll take two from column A, and 1 from column B, I don’t need anything from column C.) I have faith that there is a reason for everything, even if I don’t yet know what it is. Seeing it spelled out, especially with the allegory of Amalek helps to strengthen my faith even more. Will I ever completely defeat doubt? Probably not. Like all epic battles, it’ll probably be one fought through the ages (at least until the Moshiach comes). But at least the tools to fight it off are more clear.

Preparing for an Emunah Enhancing Pesach

Preparing for Pesach goes beyond ridding our homes of Chometz. Our seforim teach that the opportunities for spiritual growth on Pesach are huge, but we need to prepare ourselves for that opportunity.

The principles of Jewish Belief broadly fall into three categories: belief in Hashem, belief in a G-d given Torah and belief in reward and punishment. Each of the three Jewish holidays emphasizes one of these: Pesach is Emunah, Shavuos is Torah and Succos is reward and punishment. So our focus on Pesach should be on strengthening our Emunah.

How do we define the Emunah we are trying to strengthen? Emunah is clearly not just a yes answer to the question, “Do you believe in G-d?”. Emunah is a knowledge-level clarity that there is a Creator, Who created and runs the world. But as Bilvavi and others point out, this knowledge has to go beyond the intellectual and reach the experiential.

Experiential knowledge is knowing something with a certainty beyond what our intellect can bring us to. For example, philosophers have shown that it is impossible to prove without a shadow of a doubt that we exist. Perhaps we are experiencing a dream-like illusion. Yet each one of knows with absolute certainty, that we do exist. Another example: do we have to prove to ourselves that we have a hand? No, our experience of moving and controlling hand leaves no doubt.

It is possible to reach that same level of experiential knowledge of Hashem. It should be clear to us that we have quite a ways to go in this matter, as how many of us can say we experience the reality of G-d in the same way we experience the reality of the existence of our hand.

Pesach gives us the opportunity to significantly increase our experiential knowledge. The Torah commands us to re-experience and re-tell the story. And Chazal through the seder and it’s 15 steps provide us with additional tools to experience G-d in even a deeper manner. Every single step of the seder (and all seven days of Pesach) provide the potential of experiencing Hashem in a deeper and clearer manner. If done with foresight and focus, we can each reach the next rung in our spiritual growth ladder.

To achieve this growth we need to prepare. One suggestion is to get one of the great Hagaddah commentaries and start reviewing it today. Try to concentrate on the Emunah enhancing commentaries (suggestions are welcome).

A second suggestion is to work on enhancing experiential knowledge well before Pesach. Perhaps consciously focusing our thoughts on the fact that there is a Creator and He created us, a number of times a day as Bilvavi suggests. Or focusing on feeling and experiencing Hashem’s greatness, might, and awesomeness when saying those words in the first brocha of Shomoneh Esrai.

Real growth takes real effort and we have a tremendous opportunity to achieve real growth in the next month. Please share any experiential Emunah enhancing techniques you have found in the comments.

A Privileged Trip

Because I have four children in Israel, I travel there often to see them, and I belong to a frequent-flyer club. As a result, when I purchased my ticket for the trip from which I am coming back as I write this, I was able to get a one-way upgrade to a premium class. I decided that I would get the upgrade on the flight back from Israel, my reasoning being that, firstly, it would alleviate some of the “blue” feelings I always have when I leave my children and leave Israel, and secondly, the westward trip is longer.

So here I am, sitting in the premium cabin on an international flight – something I have never experienced before – and as everyone sleeps while I am trying to stay awake and readjust my inner clock to Dallas time, this is a good time for reflection.

My family and friends laugh good-naturedly at my trait of always being early for everything. I had spent my last Shabbat of this trip at the home of my daughter, who lives in a remote village in Shomron, across the green line. Most taxi drivers don’t go there, but another daughter of mine, on her most recent trip, had found one who would, so I used his services also. My flight was scheduled to depart on Motzae Shabbat, and I asked the taxi driver to leave his home base right after the end of Shabbat to pick me up and take me to the airport. Hashem made everything go smoothly; I arrived at the terminal in plenty of time.

As a premium ticket holder, I was invited to while away the hours in an exclusive lounge with all sorts of amenities. Regular coach passengers have to be ready to board an hour or two ahead of time, but premium passengers can spend their time in the lounge and go to the gate only one-half hour prior to departure. I got so caught up in the various creature comforts in that lounge that, when my flight was called, I had to run to the gate! As I was sprinting there, I thought about the well-known metaphor we’ve probably all heard, about how life is like a cruise ship which makes an interim stop at a pleasant port. Some of the passengers get off the ship but hurry back in plenty of time. Some get so involved in the pleasures of the port that they almost don’t make it back to the ship; those are analogous to people who get so caught up in the pleasures of this world that they nearly forget about the World to Come. The lesson was just too obvious to ignore!

When I boarded the plane, I was ushered to a section of magnificent, roomy seats with many features you don’t find in coach. I had asked for an aisle seat; this section of the plane was set up in a 2-3-2 pattern, with my seat being at the end of one of the “3” parts. A woman sat next to me in the middle seat of the three; she started scolding one of the flight attendants, protesting that here she was in a premium class but she was in a middle seat “like a tourist.” The seats were arranged with plenty of room to get up and move around nevertheless, but my seatmate was not a happy passenger. As I write this, she is asleep. I hope she is comfortable; all of the seats in this section can recline like beds. To me, though, this experience is too exciting to sleep through – and I am usually one who sleeps on planes, even when I’m cramped in coach.

I once watched a movie where a woman, blind from birth, was given the opportunity to see for a period of a few hours before she would once again be blind. To me, flying in a premium class is like that. Why would I want to sleep through it when I can be awake and have all these new experiences? To be attended to and served and have my every whim catered to is not my everyday life.

There is an article on Aish HaTorah’s Web site by someone who was upgraded to first class, and he mused on how it was so easy to feel superior just because one is sitting in a premium class. I’m glad I read and reread the article, because it keeps me mindful of not falling into that trap. Flying is usually a very stressful experience for me. While in Israel, I bought a book about emunah, faith in Hashem, and I’ve been trying to internalize the lessons it teaches. It’s almost like Hashem has given me a special gift now, to let me enjoy this flight, because I have taken a first step toward strengthening my faith and trust in Him. So rather than feeling superior, I feel grateful to Hashem that He is showing me such overwhelming kindness. Of course, He shows me kindness every day and every moment, but I’m not always able to see it. I can see it and savor it now, at this moment, as I sit in this roomy seat. On a practical level, as well as thanking Hashem, I am trying to compliment and thank the flight attendants as much as I can for their help in making the flight pleasant for me. I want to spread my happiness around and make it easier for service people, whose lives are certainly not easy. And I’m sure that in a premium class, more is expected of them than in coach, as shown by my unhappy seatmate.

Judaism is such a beautiful religion. Hashem doesn’t ask us to deny the pleasures He gives us in this world; He asks only that we keep a higher goal in mind and look toward the World to Come. We have to remember what the Chofetz Chaim said: We are only passing through. But meanwhile, as long as we remember Who is giving us the pleasures we have, we are free to enjoy the banquet He sets before us. When He gives us a free gift like this, He is like a loving parent who gives his child a prize. The child, if properly raised and not spoiled, just wants to hug and kiss the parent for showing such love to the child. I sing in my heart to Hashem, and thank Him for letting me enjoy this wonderful experience. And most of all, I thank Him for once again having let me visit His holy Land of Israel and my beloved children who live there.

What is Hashem Telling me?

I was in a car accident last week. Or perhaps the right words are, “I caused a car accident last week.” The guy in front of me slammed on his brakes because the guy in front of him did, and I crashed into his car. I didn’t respond fast enough when he suddenly stopped, and now I have a sore body and a car with significant damage and since I live in NJ, I can look forward to G-d knows how much of a bill when you add up tickets, points, and deductibles.

I keep living the accident over and over again, this constant nightmare in my head. I can still hear the crash, feel it in my body, and that sinking “Oh no!” that comes from it. I had plans, an appointment I was on my way to, and so did the other driver. But this happened instead. Now it’s insurance adjusters, and body shops, and chiropractors, and apologizing over and over again to my husband for messing up his car. There is also a renewed and deeper fear of leaving my house, of driving anywhere, of recognizing that every day I don’t know if and when I’ll return to the house — or if my family will — in the same shape they left, or even, at all. This awareness haunts me, terrifies me, makes me cry.

I share this incident with you because I am acutely aware of how being frum shaped the way I responded to the accident from the first minute. I’ll share with you what I mean.

My first response after “OH NO”, was thank you, Hashem, that no one was injured. Even though the accident happened because the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, I am considered at fault because I hit him. I wish it hadn’t happened. But it did, so I thank Hashem that it wasn’t much worse.

The other guy was rushing to an appointment. The damage to his car was minor. He suggested not bothering with the police, and just trading car insurance info. I should have done that, would have saved me a lot of money in points and insurance increases. But I knew the right thing to do was to call the police, and in that instant, I chose to do the right thing and call the police. (I admit several moments since then of clunking myself on the head and saying, “you idiot, what were you thinking?!!!!”)

At the end of the transaction, I approached the man and apologized to him for hitting his car. Although this in itself was an admission of guilt, and perhaps I should have been taking the stand of, “Hey, this is YOUR fault for putting on your brakes!”, I chose in the moment to just say, “I’m sorry for hitting your car.” He softened immediately, told me it was all right, and asked me what my first name is. I told him, “Azriela, a Hebrew name which means G-d is my helper.” He smiled, and quoted me back a bible verse from his religion. For a moment, we were just two people recognizing that G-d is in charge, and we forgave one another. I wished him a good day and he wished me the same.

Ever since the accident, I keep asking myself over and over again — if this was from Hashem, and I must believe it is, why? Am I being punished for something I’ve done wrong? Am I being warned to stop doing something I’ve been doing? Am I being given a wake up call? Why the expense right now we really can’t afford? Did I come by some money in the wrong way, and Hashem is taking it back from me now? Was this not a punishment, but actually saving me from something? Now that my car will be in the shop for who knows how long, did Hashem take it off the road because if that hadn’t happened, something much worse could have happened while driving it? Does the accident take the place of something so much worse, and I should be grateful for it?

And then, there is the sinking feeling I try to avoid dwelling on, that now consumes me. Life is so fragile, gone in a second, one crash and it’s all over as we know it. I kiss my children goodbye in the morning and pray they will return to me. I hug my husband before he heads off for work and pray for his safe return. Every morning, what is so dear to me can slip through my hands. I can’t hold on to it no matter how much I want to. It’s really all in Hashem’s hands.

And that is, for me, a really scary thought.

This is the moment when I am supposed to take the high road, and increase my bitachon, and feel a sense of serenity in this wake up call that reminds me that Hashem is in control. This is the moment when I should just be concentrating on my gratitude that the accident only resulted in broken metal, not broken bones, and that the guy I hit wished me a good day by the end of it.

And what does any of this have to do with being frum? Simply this.

I keep reviewing the whole accident with G-d in mind. G-d is always in mind. What does G-d want of me? Why is G-d doing this to me? What did I do wrong? What can I do better? Why today, and what does it all mean? Why was this G-d’s plan for me today?

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that it’s important that I keep asking the questions.