Thursday, September 3, 2009

When Things Do Not Go According to Plan

A certain man had good cause to rejoice: his wife had given birth to a baby boy. He arranged everything for the bris which would take place on the eighth day and even traveled to nearby Lublin to invite the Chozeh of Lublin, zt”l, to be the sandek. The Chozeh graciously agreed, and everything was set.

On the day of the bris which was called for early afternoon, the family and friends slowly gathered in the appointed place to wait for the great event. Unfortunately, when the time came, the Chozeh had not yet arrived. Since the father really yearned for the Chozeh to be the sandek, he decided to wait.

When, after an hour, there was still no sign of the Chozeh, the family began to get worried. It was a winter day and the sun would set early. After another short while of anxious waiting, they finally decided to do the bris without the Chozeh.

Just as they were about to wash for the seudah a little over a quarter of an hour before sunset, the Chozeh finally arrived. The family requested his presence at the seudah and sat him at the head of the table. During the seudah, they noticed something very strange. It seemed that the Chozeh was much more joyous then he appeared during a bris when he had actually been the sandek. This infectious happiness lifted up the mood of the all of the attendees, and they expressed their happiness with enthusiastic singing and Torah.

After the bris, someone asked the Chozeh why he was so joyous—he had not even attended the actual bris.

He answered, “I am so happy because, in a way, not having made it to be the sandek is better than being sandek. Since the custom is to only choose a truly great person to be sandek, one who is blessed with this distinction must fight thoughts of arrogance which can impinge his joy. However, if one planned to do a mitzvah and was prevented against his will, Hashem views this as if he had done the mitzvah anyway.

The Chozeh concluded, “Surely no hubris can be felt by someone who missed doing the mitzvah! Yet Hashem views it as if it was done. This means Hashem views it as if he had done it with perfect connection and focus. It is as if I have merited to do a mitzvah with completion and humility—shouldn’t I be filled with ecstasy and joy?”


Spiritual Dan said...

now we have to ensure that the yetzer hara doesn't pull tricks to make us miss out on actually completing the mitzvot, with the justification that the reward is earned in merely planning to complete it!

Micha Golshevsky said...

Spiritual Dan: Good point which is absolutely correct!
But we must also remember to live in the moment and appreciate the good within us even when we messed up.
As Rebbe Nachman said: we should never be discouraged if we fell since we can always change the bad to good through teshuvah.
Of course that is also a challenge since a fool may figure that he can sin now and repent...whenever. Of course the Talmud says that most often such a person does not do teshuvah.
But Rebbe Nachman told us this despite the risk since most people fall away from Hashem precisely because they have given up on themselves. They figure that it is too late for them to become better or that they have failed to fulfill whatever mitzvah. But the truth is that we can transform any bad to good (just like in the story,) it all just depends upon our attitude.
If any spiritual failure made us rejoice and turn to Hashem in truth we would be on a very high level indeed.