STRENGTH WITH CLARITY
HARAV Y. REUVEN RUBIN SHLITA
I had a fascinating article in the works. Hundreds of words written, with a clever beginning, and lots of information. Then they put us all back into lock down, and all the wind left my sails so to speak, and I just felt the half-finished article would not do. So I did what writers really fear, I deleted the whole page and, as you are reading, I started again.
We were all emotionally worn down, then just as the wondrous news of a vaccine was being digested, the virus took a turn, mutated into a more veracious type, and well, we have had to lock ourselves up once more.
I speak to many holy Yidden on a regular basis, and I can vouchsafe that many are suffering and feeling forlorn. We all need so much chizuk, and flounder about wondering where we can find some hope.
Allow me to share a piece from the Sfas Emes on parshas Vayeira. It came to hand just when the empty page was taunting me for some answers.
The Sfas Emes starts with an age old question. “Why must we sometimes endure exile, distress and troubles? The fundamental reason for all our Golus on a national level and distress and troubles for each of us individually is so that we will recognise that it is the Eibishter who is in control, not us. If we do not appreciate Him when things are going well for us, His answer is to hide himself and let us fend for ourselves, in a manner of speaking. Then, when things start to fall apart, we realise just how much we need Him.
The Chiddushei HaRim says that if a person would know for sure that Hashem is the source of everything that happens, Kaveuchal would not conceal His presence from that person. We find this concept in the pesukim at the beginning of this week’s parsha.
After Hashem asks Moshe to tell the Bnei Yisroel that He will take them out of Egyptian bondage, redeem us and take us unto Him as a nation, He promises,
“You shall know that I am Hashem your Lord, Who is extracting you from under the oppression of Egypt.” (Shemos 6:7)
By the end of Yitzias Mitzrayim it would be obvious that the Eibishter orchestrated it, and this understanding is the goal. The exile and exodus from Egypt is a lesson for all generations and for each of us on a personal level.
When we realise that everything that happens to us is arranged by Hashem then the reason for the tribulations is removed and there is a redemption of sorts, reminiscent of our redemption from Egypt. It is for this reason that the Torah commands us to remember Yitzias Mitzrayim every day. It is a reminder that it is not through our own efforts but rather by the rachmonus of Hashem that we are not slaves in Egypt today. The Eibishter was in control in Egypt and He is in control now in our own lives. The way out of difficult situations is by remembering this principle.
To the extent that it becomes clear to us that Hashem is in control, not us, we are able to extract ourselves from every difficult situation in which we find ourselves. Arriving at this understanding was the reason that Hashem gave us the difficulty to begin with. It is not necessary to wait until we are in distress, though. We can prevent difficulties as well by remembering this important lesson all the time.”
We as a community and individuals are broken in so many ways. The enormity of what we are going through is unparalleled. Most of our history is strewn with the sounds of war and the displacement that often came in its wake. Now we are fighting an invisible enemy that is canny and kills by stealth. We thought we could just about get through the first lock down. Then the celebratory news, there is a vaccine, and we will all get past this darkness. Yet, now we find that our enemy is more agile than we first thought, and we sit once more behind locked doors.
Where are we going to get strength to perceiver? Shomayim is calling to us, Hashem holds us in His loving hands, yet, we just may be forgetful amidst our pain, and lose sight of our connection with kaviyuchal the Eibishter. The world needs us to wake up and focus on what it is Hashem wants of us.
As we have just learnt from the Sfas Emes:
‘The Chiddushei HaRim says that if a person would know for sure that Hashem is the source of everything that happens, Kaveuchal would not conceal His presence from that person.’
Sweet struggling Yidden, This is our moment, this is our tikun!