Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” 1 Samuel 3:9-10
One cannot come to the Jewish quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, without at some point stopping to sit under the cool tree at Chaya’s Place. It is more than a cafe’, it is a social hub. A cultural landmark among the locals as well as tourists alike. Chaya’s latkes are ‘to die for’ and if the truth were known, as much as my husband and I love Israel, it is Chaya’s latkes that bring us back year after year!
Chaya was born in Poland, and moved with her family as a young child to Australia before the war. She made aliyah to Israel in 1970, where she lived on a Kibbutz. Together, with her husband at her side, they labored hard to build their lives in the Land of Israel.
On this late July afternoon my husband, Baruch, and I sat at one of her outside tables sipping iced mint lemonade. Everyone was in low gear, attempting to regain some bit of strength that the heat had stolen. We could just begin to feel a slight breeze, signifying that the temperature was releasing its stronghold upon the day, allowing the cool of the evening to approach. I have learned to submit to the heat, and allow it to slow me down. It is during such times, that I give opportunity to hear my inner voice, in an otherwise hectic day.
Chaya spotted us from her kitchen, and with a few minutes to spare, she scurried out to sit with us. Bypassing informal chit-chat, we launched into our conversation as if we had just seen one another yesterday, when in fact, it had been four months.
“How does one know they are hearing from G-d, and it’s not our own thoughts?” Chaya questioned inquisitively, yet with a forlorn look. Frustrated, she added, “I do not hear Him, it seems all of my investments have been failures. I have decided that I must not make any more decisions because each time I do, ‘POOF’ they fail!”
The wrinkles of worry increased across Chaya’s brow, and I could tell this was something she was very stressed over. Realizing that I had no secret formula up my sleeve to answer this age-old question, suddenly the story of little Samuel popped into my mind…“Chaya, remember the story of young Samuel being awakened in the night, and each time going to Eli, thinking that he was hearing Eli call him, but it wasn’t Eli at all?”
“Yes” Chaya said, with a perplexed look. “I know the story.”
“Well, remember that finally Eli sent Samuel back to bed one last time and told him that the next time he heard this voice, address G-d Himself and say to Him: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”
There was a look of acknowledgement that unfolded upon Chaya’s face. We sat in silence for a few moments, as revelation caught up with us.
I continued, “Remember when you told us about giving your inheritance to your brother to help take care of his son with medical needs? — and the time that you felt so strongly to buy this restaurant, offering the owner an amount when you didn’t even know what he would accept?”
It is hard to describe what actually happened next. I call it a, getting sent back to bed moment. It’s when our hearing becomes listening. It is like when we wake up in the middle of a dream, and we are disoriented, but we know something very important just took place.
We tend to base the leading or G-d voice on what we have become accustomed to hearing with our physical ears or what fits into our comfort zone.
I don’t know, our mind questions…. “That doesn’t sound like the Rabbi on youtube I listen to each week,” or — “That couldn’t be right because G-d wouldn’t lead me to buy property in Montana! He knows I am a city girl.”
Sometimes we just need to send ourselves back to bed one more time, before we get it.
Samuel didn’t chant some mantra, or sit in a yoga position. He wasn’t taught how to meditate, or breathe deeply. He didn’t travel to Peru or attend a self-help conference. He just awoke from his slumber and finally cried out, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears”
Simple. Done deal.
We have much to learn from young Samuel… How many times have we missed G-d’s voice calling us? Just because Samuel didn’t recognize G-d’s calling the first few times, G-d didn’t give up on him! Our G-d is loving and patient with His children, and will never give up on us, no matter how many times we get sent back to bed.
“So Chaya,” I said, “I suspect that you have heard G-d’s voice but you just didn’t recognize it. Maybe a few things haven’t worked out the way you would have liked, but that’s how we learn. Just look at who Samuel became! A prophet used to anoint kings, and speak to nations! A man whose words did not fall to the ground, but accomplished G-d’s will on earth.” We may not all be prophets today, but we all have a special purpose from G-d.
Perhaps we should take a rest in the heat of our day, as we slowly sip a cold glass of mint lemonade. Lingering under a shady tree while listening to the stillness within.
A couple of big juicy lemons
A bunch of fresh mint leaves
A big splash of simple syrup (to taste)
A few sloshes of water
A pinch of fresh jalapeno pepper (optional)
In a blender, toss in mint, syrup, ice, water, and optional jalapeno. Add the juice of the lemons. Whizz until all is a big slushy mess. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.