May 17, 2022 -

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Look At Your Life Through Heaven’s Eyes (Ma’asei – 07/14/18)

Rabbi Neil Schuman

Look At Your Life Through Heaven’s Eyes
We move often; the average American moves once every seven years. Sometimes it’s due to an educational or occupational opportunity, sometimes we’re downsizing or upsizing for family or health needs. Are these moves random events or is there possibly some Divine plan in the making?
We just read the part of the Torah that recounts our travels in the desert (Numbers 33):
“These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt under the charge of Moses and Aaron.  Moses recorded their travels based upon the word of the Lord, and these were their journeys with their starting points.  They ventured from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month…”
Forty-eight destinations are mentioned in the Children of Israel’s forty-year stint in the desert.  Some of these places are well known and some are just a mystery.  We could posit the Torah is just making a chronology of those forty years or we could say it’s teaching us a life lesson: that just like those travels were according to the word of God so are ours!
Perhaps our stops in life weren’t chance happenings, rather they were chosen for us or for someone else’s personal development and betterment.
If have seen providence numerous times in my life.  One scenario I call the Santa Barbara, Indianapolis, Rutherford express.  My first rabbinic position was in Santa Barbara twenty years ago.  I performed a wedding for a young couple that became highly involved in the synagogue.  Attending the wedding was the bride’s sister and brother in law from Indianapolis.  The wedding was beautiful and I developed a warm friendship with the whole family.  A few years down the road, I was looking for a job and it happened to be that a synagogue in Indianapolis was also seeking a rabbi.  Who was the president of this synagogue, my bride’s brother in law! I obtained that position.
While in Indianapolis, the community eruv (a halachic, virtual fence that unites the community) fell into disrepair.  I brought in an expert to examine the whole eruv, and through hands-on work with the expert, I myself became very knowledgeable on the subject.  A few years down the line, when I was looking for a position nearer our east coast families, the community in Rutherford, NJ was also seeking a rabbi.  They were also hoping to build an eruv.  Needless to say, I got the job (and built an eruv!).
Each one of those positions had merits on their own, but it was always clear to me that each one led me and prepared me for the other.
When I was in Santa Barbara, I was always impressed by how one our loving couples met. He was from Brooklyn and she from Dublin.  They decided to go on a college trip to Israel and were seated next to each other on the plane. They’ve been married now for more than 40 years.  From two sides of the Atlantic, God moved them to them to two seats on El Al to meet.  How about that for providence?
I believe events as clear as these occur to us regularly, but we attribute them to chance and forget about them.  On the other hand, if we could be so daring as to say they are the intervention of a loving God who cares about us, the event is then magnified.  It’s not only an occurrence for our benefit, it’s an act love by my Higher Power who cares about me.
The movie “The Prince of Egypt” is a fantastic musical with moving songs embodying the Exodus from Egypt.  One song called “Through Heaven’s Eye’s” contains the following words:
        “So how can you see what your life is worth
          or where your value lies?
         Oh, you can never see through the eyes of man
         You must look at your life,
         look at your life through heaven’s eyes”
I believe all of us could offer stories of providence that would make us marvel, but we haven’t accustomed ourselves to view those instances as Divine Intervention.  The Torah tells us though, that each of us is worthy of God’s care, love and providence.  All we need to do is open our eyes to this possibility and our life becomes a whole lot richer.

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