26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Coffee Date with G-d    

The Coffee Date with G-d

I was born and raised as nice religious Jewish girl, but my belief in Hashem was superficial at best; then, I had my first encounter with Divine providence…


The aromatic smell of coffee conjures up just one thing with me.


The start of my first real give n' take relationship with G-d.


I was born and raised as a religious Jew who attended the local orthodox girl’s school.


I was a good “product". I walked the walk and talked the talk of a good Jewish girl.


But my belief in G-d was superficial.  Although I connected with Hashem some level, it was a long journey until I got really close to Him.  It all started with my first encounter with Divine providence. It actually started with a dresser. (Yes, the thing you put your clothes in!)


What’s so spiritual about that, you might think. So I’ll start from the beginning.


Growing up, my best friend had a princess room with a beautiful white dresser and various knick-knacks placed on top. As for me, I only had a boring old closet in my simple bedroom.


I didn’t want to bother my parents, since purchasing one would be an added expense.


So I spoke to G-d and I asked with all sincerity for a new dresser.


The next day I came home from school and there it was, standing tall like it had always been there. A cream colored dresser with gold knobs!


I was so amazed! G-d hears me and can actually listen to what I say! I began to talk to him more often.


One time, I clearly remember being sick and calling out to Him. But it was usually only when I needed something that I came calling...


I always made sure to go to Him with my proverbial shopping list. So my relationship with G-d remained more or less on the "give me" level.


As I grew up, things didn’t always go my way. All my wishes didn’t materialize at whim.


My childhood morphed into a bumpy teenage-hood and finally the prized position in adulthood: the miraculous culmination—marriage. That was definitely big on my wish list. I was truly grateful to G-d for finding me a perfect husband. But time moved on, with the regular bumps on the road that are inherently part of marriage, working and raising a child.


I was so busy I barely had time to pray. I didn’t feel close to G- d. 


Then it all changed.


One evening I placed a scalding cup of black coffee on the counter for the few seconds it took to get the milk. Before I knew it, my 20-month old baby grabbed the cup and its contents spilled onto his face and chest. The next moments are one big blur, a jumble of lights and sirens, paramedics, pandemonium....


I sat in the front of the ambulance, not allowed by the personnel to be in the back near my son. As we rounded the hills of Jerusalem, on the way to Hadassah Ein Kerem, I remembered praying. I felt like a robot saying Psalms. Talking to G – d, asking him to save and heal my baby, felt so unnatural, like I hadn’t spoken to Him in years.


We arrived at the hospital. I was a first time mother in a foreign country, looking with disbelief and pure horror at the dimpled and doe eyed son of mine who now had a deformed face and burned chest. He was crying uncontrollably. I was crying uncontrollably. I didn’t ask anyone questions. I just thought and believed the worst. I clearly remember thinking; “I will love you no matter how you look" as I gazed into the slits that were his eyes.


After a traumatic experience in the ER, we were admitted. That’s when the demons descended.


They attacked everything, my incompetence at being a mother, my stupidity for leaving the coffee there. The permanent damage I caused. The self-flagellation continued and I could not sleep and was actually writhing in pain, emotional pain.


Little did I know that I would hear from a Doctor that would relieve me from my misery.


Not a psychiatrist or psychologist. (Which I was surely qualified to meet one!) The doctor's message came in the form of a book called “The Garden of Emuna", By Rav Shalom Arush. Who is this generation's voice of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, the doctor of the soul.


Providentially, I had purchased it literally just hours before the actual burn happened. G-d had prepared the remedy before the affliction. I opened the book to any page.


There written clearly the rabbi wrote about Divine providence and free will and how we can reconcile these incompatible ideas. Namely, if G-d controls everything, how can I have free will to choose?


It was an other-worldly experience reading these words that were to be life-altering. To paraphrase, BEFORE something happens, you have to think: I have free will. I will use every tool I possess and all my strength to accomplish this matter.


But AFTER the fact if something already occurred, even if it seems like we could have prevented it, you think: I didn’t do it! G-d willed it!


So basically you're in Divine providence mode after something happens and free will mode before it takes place.


And never shall the twain meet!


This calmed me immediately, deeper than any tranquilizer could have. I knew this was meant to be. (The piece about my being paranoid about hot water wasn’t included!)


At that fateful time, I received many gifts.


My sons face was healing (it would completely go back to normal- thank G-d).


We became stronger people.


We became more aware of the gifts we already had.


But mostly my Emuna, my deep faith was restored. The healing words of Rebbe Nachman and Rav Shalom soothed my tortured heart.


I met G - d again.


Afterwards I was hooked onto Rav Shalom Arush’s teachings. An aspect of Torah I had never heard of before.


His teachings have been and are a blessing in my life.


Because when you live with emuna, the impossible becomes possible.

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