21 Jun What Does Hashem Want from Me?
One of the great personalities of the Jewish people was Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Kedushas Levi, Zt”l, Zy”a. I would like to share with you, my dear readers, a fascinating event that transpired in his synagogue one Yom Kippur. This incident is recorded in full in the sefer Nifla’osecha Asicha and it conveys a profound insight into what Hashem expects from us. Before starting the story, it is important to understand that Reb Levi Yitzchok was vested with Ruach haKodesh, Divine inspiration.
At the end of the fast one Yom Kippur, everyone was filing by him to get a blessing for a good year. When it came the turn of a certain fine yeshiva lad, Rav Levi Yitzchak complimented him that his prayers this particular Yom Kippur made quite an impact in Heaven. The yungerman looked up in surprise and said, “The Rebbe knows what my prayers were?” The Rav smiled and said yes. “By maariv of Kol Nidre, you asked Hashem to provide you with 120 golden coins for the year so that you should be able to learn Torah diligently without worry or interruption. However, in the shacharis prayer the next morning, you told Hashem that you were worried that if he gives you the 120 in one shot, you might slack off. So you asked instead that he should give you 60 now and 60 after Pesach. During mincha, upon further reflection, you said that also might be too risky and instead you asked Hashem for 10 golden coins each month. Finally, during Neilah, you said to Hashem, ‘Perhaps it would be safest if You just gave me two and a half gold coins each week.’ ”
The yungerman nodded with amazement and told the Rav, “Indeed, those were my exact prayers! Since the Rav knows so much, can the Rav tell me if my prayers were accepted?” Rav Levi Yitzchak turned to him and said, “The premise of your requests was your confidence that Hashem wants you to be learning the entire day. How can you be so sure that that is what Hashem wants from you? Perhaps Hashem values your longing and pangs to learn Torah when you aren’t able to do so, more than your Torah learning itself. Or, it could be that Hashem wants a fine yungerman like you to be in the workplace to serve as an example for others of how a Torah yungerman is supposed to comport himself. Finally, who says that Hashem wants you to have 120 pieces of gold and learn Torah for 14 hours a day with ease? Perhaps He wants you to have a hard day at work and then for you to fight sleep from your eyes and learn with great difficulty one hour in the evening! For, in Avos d’Rav Nosson, it states that ‘Yafa sha’ah achas b’tzar m’meia sha’os shelo b’tzar – One hour of learning with difficulty and distress equals 100 hours of Torah study with ease. It then turns out that instead of 120 golden pieces and 14 hours of learning, you end up with the equivalent of 100 hours of learning instead.”
What a profound anecdote! The moral of the story is that we never can truly know what Hashem wants from us at any given time. We do ask Hashem in the morning, “Al tivieinu… lo lidei nisoayon,” that He should not test us. But it’s important to know that in every situation that we find ourselves, we should remember the verse, “B’chol derachecha dei’eihu – In all of your ways acknowledge Him, V’hu yiyasher orchosecha – and He will straighten out your path.
May we always merit to find favor in the Eyes of Hashem thereby to be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.