If it’s meant to be, it will be!
Have you ever suffered a loss because you did the right thing?
They say that “nice guys finish last,” but does that apply to our Judaism too? Can publicly identifying as a Jew negatively impact your chances of employment or climbing the corporate ladder? Would raising your annual Tzedakah commitment or sending your children to a private Jewish Day School adversely affect your lifestyle?
Rabbi Bentzion Wiener was born in Poland just before the Holocaust. He survived the war hidden in the home of a non-Jewish family. After he had come to America, he once asked the Rebbe how it could be that he had lent a sizable amount of money to a fellow Jew as a charitable loan and had never seen the funds again. “How could it be that after performing a good deed by helping another person, I should lose out so much? How could G‑d allow that to happen?”
The Rebbe answered, “Sometimes it is ordained from Heaven that a person should lose his money by paying doctors’ bills or some other kind of misfortune. Yet, when such a decree is in place but has not been enforced as yet, we get a chance to lose the same amount in a different, kinder way—by performing a good deed.”
I was deeply moved by this answer, as I realized that G-d’s Providence is always upon us. Things are not as they seem. There is always a deeper truth at play—far deeper than what meets the eye. Nothing can stop G-d’s plan for your life. Instead of losing money with tears, Rabbi Bentzion Wiener was allowed to lose it with a smile. Instead of enduring the loss through pain and suffering, he experienced it with dignity and grace.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Reb Yekusiel of Chernigov, Ukraine, was a prominent and successful businessman as well as a philanthropist, admired by all who knew him. When he was once traveling on a business trip, he encountered the Fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, known as the Rebbe Rashab. At the end of the conversation, the Rebbe advised him to invest in supplying lumber to the new Trans-Siberian Railway that was soon to be constructed. Scoffing at the prospect of spending years living in the frozen wastelands of Siberia, Reb Yekusiel ignored the saintly Rebbe’s unsolicited business advice.
Several months later, the Russian authorities suddenly accused Reb Yekusiel of white-collar crimes and sentenced him to prison in….Siberia! As he tearfully prepared to depart on his journey, he invited the Rabbi of Chernigov, Reb Dovid Zvi Chein, to his prison cell. As he told him the story of his providential meeting with the Rebbe months earlier, he could finally connect the dots of his recent experience: “And so, now I’m on my way to Siberia. I thought that the Rebbe was dispensing business advice, but he must have seen that there is something there, in Siberia, that I must achieve—some part of my mission in life that must be played out in the frozen east. I could have gone in comfort, as a wealthy businessman and government contractor. Now I am going in chains…”
There is a magnificent word in Jewish spirituality called “Bashert.” It means “Meant to be.” Though it’s most frequently used in the context of suitors for marriage, it actually encompasses every single aspect of our lives. G-d has a plan for us and if it’s meant to be—it will be! Nothing can stop G-d’s plan for your life. No financial planning or business strategy will spare you from your destiny. G-d’s plans will always be greater and more beautiful than your disappointments.
A classic Yiddish expression is that “Man plans and G-d laughs.” Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. If G-d can take away something you’ve never expected to lose, He can just as easily send you something you’ve never imagined having.
The Shabbos before Tisha B’Av is called “Shabbos Chazon”—the “Shabbos of Vision.” In anticipation of Tisha B’Av—the date of the destruction of our Temple—we read about the prophecies of future redemption. Vision is so much more than seeing the distant future. I believe that it’s much more about seeing the present. Life is so full of beauty, but how many of us are actually able to see it?
The Shabbos of Vision inspires us to train our eyes to see the good in everything. Sometimes all you need is a new prescription.
May we have the courage to open our eyes in the dark.
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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