It’s never about luck

Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal

For Jews, it’s never about luck, but always about a combination of determination and hard work and G-d’s Divine providence for us.

Today is Purim, when we celebrate the Jewish victory over the evil Haman and his conspiracy to annihilate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Haman drew a lottery to determine what he thought was a fortuitous day, the 13th of Adar, to murder the Jewish people and pursued this plot through a decree by King Achashverosh. But as we know, G-d made miracles through Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, and Haman and his ten sons ended hanging by the noose that he built for Mordechai. Under a subsequent decree from King Achashverosh, the Jews banded together to defend themselves and vanquished their anti-Semitic and genocidal enemies. Through G-d’s guiding hand and the wits and fight of the Jewish people, Haman’s “luck” completely ran out and he ended up getting what was coming to him!

It was interesting last night for Purim, Aish Center of Greater Washington had a Zoom with British magician Sacha Johnstone, who kept everyone entertained with his wonderful magic and happy Purim spirit. In one act, Sacha selected someone from the online audience to choose one of three envelopes, in which one had 5 pounds: If the person would choose that envelope, Sacha would donate it to charity. The man thinks and mindfully selects one envelope. Then Sacha offers him to change it to another if he wants. The man thinks carefully again and switches it, nodding approvingly on his decision-making. Sacha opens the envelope and sure enough, there is the five-pound note. The man is smiling, he guessed it correctly: luck was on his side. But then, Sacha proceeds to open the other envelopes. They are not empty! Inside the first is 500 pounds, and you can see the man’s smile disappears and he is in a little bit of shock. Then Sacha opens the second envelope, and there is a check for 1000 pounds. Now, the man who selected the envelope with $5 pounds isn’t feeling so lucky after all, and there is a look of disbelief and maybe even a little despair on his face. It was entertaining though because it was all a part of Sacha’s act.

To me, the lesson was really clear that luck is a whimsical fantasy. We think we just opened the right or wrong envelope and either made it big or perhaps, lost it all. But just as the magician was guiding the magical act to its planned conclusion, so too in real life, G-d Almighty is guiding our hands and destiny.

I remember learning that:

A leaf does not fall without the will of G-d.

This has been my personal experience as well, as I can see both now and in 20/20 hindsight that there is a definite Divine method and not just a world of random chance and madness. G-d is not only our Creator, but He sustains us every moment. Our lives and the world follow his Divine wisdom and plan and follow along a meticulous course to teach us what we need to learn and take us where we need to go to fulfill our missions in life. Of course, we have to do our part to think carefully and choose the “right envelope.” We have to meet G-d halfway in our determination to do what’s right and to work hard to improve ourselves and the world. It’s a happy marriage, not of luck, but of a masterful Divine providence and our continued efforts to make ourselves better people and our world a better place.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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