Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Last and Only Stop

My train was canceled. So was the following, and the one after that. The next train was in an hour, and it was delayed as well. 

I resignedly walked over to the subway, and hopped on (more like wedged in). After a few stops, the announcer blares that this train will be moving onto another line; I clamber up stairs and escalators to transfer. Eventually, I arrive close enough to my destination, and plod over. 

My time of arrival? The same as if I had waited at the original station.

I heard this concept from Rabbi David Fohrman—the end result will be the same, but the story could have happened in a multitude of ways. Yosef was supposed to end up in Mitzrayim and be in a position of wealth and power that would ensure his family's survival. Yet did his brothers have to chuck him into the pit? No. For Yosef to become vizier, matters could have unfolded in a multitude of scenarios.

In Judaism, the ends don't justify the means. I read this story this past week, related by Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum: 
An outreach organization once asked Rabbi Elazar Shach if they could host an event that would not necessarily be in the spirit of halacha, but would attract many people who would be open to outreach. Rav Shach told the leaders of the organization, "Hashem does not need you to help people become more religious. He wants you to observe the Torah faithfully. If you could help people while remaining faithful to the Torah—that is wonderful. But hosting this kind of evening is not being faithful to Torah, regardless of outcome." 
I heard it from Rabbi Moshe Shapiro: If a person will become frum, he will become frum. Just don't get in Hashem's way. 

In our need to control, we may err in our well-meaning intentions. Being honest for "someone's own good," that ruinously hurts feelings—which is flat-out forbidden. Transgressing mitzvos for "the bigger picture." Claiming that one way of meeting a spouse is better than another, when it doesn't matter—all shidduchim are from Hashem, no matter how they play out.

As Gandi said: Truth is one. Paths are many. 

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