10 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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A Piece of Cake    

A Piece of Cake

Even the moonlight was hidden from sight. I began to venture forward into the black of night but was overcome by a wave of panic and a daunting eeriness…


I frequently walk in our Yishuv (settlement) late at night, especially when the weather is pleasant.  I enjoy (and need) the exercise and fresh air after sitting at a desk much of the day. I also look forward to the opportunity to be alone with HaShem, to clear my mind and ‘discuss’ important issues of the day in a personalized session of Hitbodedut.  Each time, since I am in such awe of the fact that I am actually walking in the Holy Land, I begin by thanking G-d for the privilege of making this our home and being able to move about in freedom. The Talmud states in tractate Ketubot 111a “one who walks four cubits in the Land of Israel will merit a portion in the world to come”. That alone is not only the icing on the cake; it is the cake itself!
A few weeks ago, as I was out for my daily stroll, my emuna was put to the test.  The streets are very familiar to me and the Yishuv is not very large so it is impossible to get lost, but I was unprepared for this startling experience.  Suddenly, without warning, the electrical power went off and I was abruptly plunged into complete darkness. Unlike being in one’s home where we know the table is about three steps to the right and the bookcase is straight ahead, there were no markers and nothing to guide my steps.  Even the moonlight was hidden from sight.  I began to venture forward into the black of night but was overcome by a wave of panic and a daunting eeriness.  How will I find my way home and avoid tripping over obstacles in my path? The answer was obvious.  HaShem was with me and there was no reason to fear.  If I didn’t utilize what I have been learning all these months, what was the point?  So I stood completely still and called out to my Protector to rescue me from this silly predicament.  Within seconds a couple of cars drove by to partially light up the route.  Shortly thereafter the power was restored.
Life is constantly filled with miracles if we only recognize them as such. Once a person begins to grow closer to HaShem, the wonders he or she witnesses are never-ending.  It’s not so much that the miracles increase drastically, but the perception of common occurrences takes on a whole new dimension. What had previously been written off as coincidence or good luck is now recognized as the Hand of G-d.  What brings about additional miracles, though, is the genuine desire for them.  If we believe that HaShem controls everything and has the ability to do anything He wants, then it follows that we learn to lean on Him for help in all matters, large and small.
Rebbe Nachman, of blessed memory, once said “It is very good to pour out your heart to G-d as you would to a true, good friend” (Kochavey Ohr, Anshey Moharan #4).  Following that line of thought, one could say our connection with HaShem is like a special friendship one cultivates, continuously bringing that relationship to a higher level of familiarity.  Someone may be an acquaintance at work with regard to planning meetings, coordinating tasks and chatting during break time, but unless you go home and call that person after hours and create a personal bond, you will never become close friends.  Similarly, one can pray three times a day and fulfill many mitzvot, but until one follows-up with consistent personal prayer (hitbodedut) one can never attain that unique closeness we all yearn for. 
Nothing comes to this world without prayer, but WITH prayer, happiness is at your fingertips.  Since I began speaking to our Creator on a regular basis, I have, thank G-d, experienced more than my share of ‘mini-miracles’.  I call them ‘mini-miracles’ because they are not major, visual extravaganzas like the splitting of the Red Sea, but they are most assuredly Divinely sent and no less spectacular.  During routine activities such as waiting for a bus or trying to hitch a ride to a specific location, a quick, short prayer will reduce waiting time significantly.
I recently went grocery shopping with a certain amount of money and a couple of small credit vouchers to cash in.  I could have written a check for the difference, if necessary, but I was trying to stay within our budget and preferred to spend only the amount I brought with me. As I shopped, I tried to keep a general tally in my mind but I didn’t add the prices up with any accuracy.  I approached the cashier, praying to myself that I would not have to use my checkbook. After she put through the groceries, I handed her my payment and the vouchers, waiting to see how much more I owed or what little change I would receive.  She looked at me in surprise as she told me it was exact right down to the agora!  A week later the same thing happened; I bought food for the precise amount I had in hand without prior calculations. This type of thing happens all the time and I have heard similar and more amazing stories from others who have strengthened themselves in emuna and practice hitbodedut regularly.
You don’t have to take my word for it; you can prove to yourself that this wonderful method of living a stress-free life actually works.  Case in point: Most of us have days when we are running late and there really isn’t enough time to daven (pray) before work or an important meeting.  If you trust only in yourself and the world of logic, you will probably forego the prayers.  After all, why risk being late when you can daven afterward?  Chances are, in this scenario, you will get stuck in a traffic jam and end up being even more delayed. Had you expended the short amount of time it takes to recite the required prayers, you would have made up the time on the road and been early for your appointment.
Most of us have experienced hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence) on one or more occasion in our lives but through building an intimate relationship with the Almighty, these incidents can become a constant part of our existence.  By engaging in daily Hitbodedut, humbling oneself before HaShem with sincere tshuva (repentance) and striving for strict adherence to the His Laws, one uplifts the worldly reality to the heavenly realm and in essence can make time stand still.  While this is a praiseworthy endeavor anywhere on earth, the potential for maximizing the results lies only within Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.  “The whole earth is full of G-d's Glory” (Isaiah 6.3) but Israel is where HaShem wants us to dwell and He rewards us accordingly.
In his commentary on Maimonides' Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban wrote that it is a mitzvah (commandment) to settle the Land of Israel.  'Inherit the land and live in it, since it is to you that I am giving the land to occupy' (Numbers 33:53).  This is an important mitzvah which will bring untold joy. If you have not yet made the life changing move, there’s no time like the present.  Ask HaShem to help you and He will show you the way.  Take it from me; it’s a piece of cake! 

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  thank you
Esther11/23/2010 9:26:03 PM

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