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ARE YOU IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?

Friday, 27 January, 2017 - 2:00 pm

"In G-d we trust;” all others pay cash....

An American Jew visited Russia and was asked about life in the USA. “Thank G-d,” he replied, “life is good. “And how is life in the Soviet Union?”

"Here," replied the Russian, "it is also good, but here we don’t say thank G-d. Here we say, “Thank Putin.”

“What will you say when Putin dies?” the American inquired.

Then we will say “Thank G-d!”

In the opening of this week’s Torah portion, Va'eira, G-d told Moses: "I, too, have heard the moans of the children of Israel from the slavery that the Egyptians are enslaving them, and I remembered My covenant.”

The words, “And I remembered My covenant,” seem to say that if not for the outcry of the children of Israel, G-d may have forgotten His covenant. Did He really need to be reminded of His promise?

Someone shared the following experience:

One day I decided to quit. I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God”, I said. “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”

His answer surprised me. “Look around,” he said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light and water. The fern quickly grew; its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year, the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. Again, nothing came from the bamboo seed, but I did not quit on the bamboo. In year three, there was still nothing from the bamboo seed, but I would not quit. The same occurred in year four. Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.

"Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just six months later, the bamboo rose to be over 100 feet tall.

"It had spent five years growing roots which made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of My creations a challenge it could not handle.

“Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots?

"I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you.

“Don’t compare yourself to others,” G-d said. “The bamboo and the fern have different purposes, but they beautify the forest. Your time will come. You will rise high.”

“How high should I rise?” I asked.

“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can?” I questioned.

“Yes.”

He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”

I left the forest realizing that God will never give up on me.

And He will never give up on you.

Never regret a day in your life.

Good days give you happiness; bad days give you experiences. Both are essential to life. Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.

The Torah says that regardless of man’s awareness of the source of his anguish, the anguish is transformative and cleansing. Even if man thinks that G-d had nothing to do with it, even if this person may feel completely disconnected from G-d, the very reality of pain alters man’s consciousness forever.

We can now appreciate G-d’s words in the opening of the portion: Many of the Jews at the time saw Egypt as the source of their suffering. “I, too, have heard the moans of the children of Israel, from the slavery that the Egyptians are enslaving them.” Their moans stemmed from their belief that the Egyptians were in full control of their lives and destinies. They forgot that it was G-d who brought them to Egypt and was ultimately the one to “blame” for their plight. They were unaware of the Divine source of their experiences, and so they could not find any meaning or purpose in their suffering.

This is what G-d was telling Moses. Despite the fact that in their eyes it is the Egyptians who are fully to blame, I nonetheless hear the moans. Why? Because, G-d said, "I remembered my covenant."

Often people ask how we can entertain the idea that it is our generation that will see Moshiach. After all, hundreds of generations of pious Jews did not bring Moshiach. How can we, a generation of simple Jews, achieve the feat? But we are forgetting the truth that all of Jewish history constitutes one large, dynamic organism. Our people have suffered incredibly for thousands of years. Just a few decades ago, we lost a third of our people. Today, our brothers and sisters in Israel are bleeding. Can we even imagine what this has done to our people?

This is the holiest generation ever—not because we are the brightest or the greatest, but because of what our people have endured for millennia. We are their children. We carry their genes, and their flag. Even if you meet a Jew who claims to be an atheist or agnostic or completely apathetic, know that G-d has embraced him, too. The holiness of the Jewish people, and of every single Jew, cannot be estimated. There is an infinite G-dliness that flows through the blood of our people which no quill can define and no words can capture.

We fail to recognize the incredible holiness embedded in our people simply as a result of all the pain we endured through the generations. We are ready and worthy of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

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