שלום בשערך - Peace in Your Gates

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Flowchart Analogy for השגחה פרטית (Divine Providence)
It occured to me that as an aid to understanding the concept of השגחה פרטית (Divine Providence)--especially the Ba'al Shem Tov's idea that Hashem is directing the affairs of the world as he is continually renewing the world--one could think of a 'flow-chart,' mapping out a person's route, or destiny. Just as a flow-chart is comprised of 'if-then' statements and different paths, depending on the choices one makes, so too, with Divine Providence--meaning that the moral choices a person makes will determine the next set of circumstances and variables with which he is confronted.

This also speaks to the idea I came across recently (but cannot recall the source), that a person's actions down here influence what happens "upstairs" (i.e., a person's choices will determine the next set of environmental conditions he is dealt). Perhaps, this is also related to what chazal meant by "mitzvah gorreres mitzvah" (one mitzvah leads to another).

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Using one's כוחות (energies) properly...
This week's parsha, כי תשא, describes how the entire tribe of Levi answered Moshe Rabbenu's call to punish those who worshipped the עגל הזהב (golden calf). One could argue that the tribe of Levi's motivation was not pure given their past behavior in שכם. However, Rashi quoting the gemara says "שכל השבט כשר", thus indicating that their intentions were, indeed, pure.

What about the tribe of Shimon--shevet Levi's "partner" in the incident at Schem? Why didn't they run to assist Moshe now? Perhaps we can glean an answer from parshas Balak, when the B'nei Yisrael were sinning with the daughters of Midian. There, Zimri, the leader of the tribe, instead of rebuking his people, rose to their defense and challenged Moshe in a most chutzpadik fashion.

Similarly, with Korach, one of shevet Levi's own sons. He allowed jealousy to blind him and likewise entered into a machlokees with Moshe Rabbenu, שלא לשמה.

Seems the vort is one of properly utilizing one's כוחות (energies) AND of having one's שכל (intellect) be נתגבר (rule) over one's מידות (emotions).

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Thursday, March 04, 2004

More Success! Ok, admittedly this is a rather mundane example, but it does demonstrate progress, I think. I was coming home last night from work and pulled up to a four-way stop. The car on my right had the right of way so I allowed him to go. Then, before I had a chance to make my left turn, the next car on my right (who obviously did not have the right of way) pulled ahead of me (and nearly hit me). I slammed on my brakes and hit the horn. The driver, instead of yielding continued straight ahead, and what's more, to make matters worse, stared at me with a look of total brazeness.

In the past, this kind of incident would have really gotten under my skin and I would have hurled a mouthful of curses at the person and would have taken quite a while to calm down. Last night, something different happened. Initially, I did feel myself getting worked up and started to curse the other driver. Then, I caught myself and told myself the following: "Look, be glad you're you and not him (i.e., a fair-minded vs. a not fair-minded person)." I also tried to be 'dan l'kaf z'chus,' thinking that perhaps he didn't see my car. It also occured to me that this was very likely a test sent by הקב''ה to see how I would react and how much progress I'd made spiritually. Finally, I just tried to refocus my mind entirely and forget the incident altogether. And, you know what? In a relatively short time the incident was gone from my memory and I was able to go home to my family in a calm and loving mood. כן ירבו !

I'd be interested to hear stories from others about similar situations and the methods you used to overcome anger.

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