I woke up at 4 a.m. last week to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s ohel with my dear friend Yankel to pray for abundant blessings. I was outside my house on 92nd Street at exactly 4.30 a.m., when he pulled up in a fancy-looking car.
As I got in, I took stock of the many gadgets—far more buttons than I’m used to, and a massive screen almost as if I were in an airplane, not a car!
Yankel noticed my curiosity and said, “Watch this!” I nearly fainted as he let go of the steering wheel with cars whizzing by on either side smack in the middle of the FDR. At the best of times I am a terrible backseat driver; I need to be the one in control. And here I was in full panic mode, clinging to my seat for dear life! Yes it was 4.30am, but this is NYC and there are always other cars on the road. I was screaming and this Yankel guy was as calm as they get. “Are you crazy?!” I exclaimed. “Hold the steering wheel!”
“Rabbi, this is the latest Tesla,” he calmly explained. “Elon Musk has created the dream car.” He showed me the cameras and explained that its reaction time is actually faster than a human’s and then I saw it with my own eyes: someone cut us off and our Tesla reacted immediately! The car slowed down for traffic lights, recognized construction zones, adjusted for speed limits, and even parked itself. I was astounded. Oh, and the best part is that the car won’t let you sleep. If it senses you’re sleeping, it will wake you up. It also doesn’t allow you to watch its built-in Netflix while in motion. Incredible!
I was sure there must be a spiritual lesson somewhere in this experience, and I realized that in life we all have to work extremely hard. We toil to make a living, to provide for our families. We wish we could sit back and relax – like in that Tesla – and let our problems leave us and dollar bills miraculously enter our lives. But that’s not how it works. Success only comes with hard work. Nothing is automatic.
The truth, however, is that G-d is in the driving seat of life, and actually, we can sit back and relax, assured that He is in full control. No panic. No need for nerves. G-d is the boss and fully in control. So when you think life is throwing you a curveball, when things seem totally unfair, remember that you trust the Driver.
As we sit and watch those beautiful burning Chanukah lights, let’s focus on that long-ago but still relevant miracle, where despite all the odds a handful of Jews managed to defeat the mightiest army of their day. How? Because G-d was driving that Tesla!
Rabbi Uriel Vigler