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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Every miracle is an opportunity for free choice

Daf Yomi Kesubos 29
At the end of the Megillah, we read, “the Jews maintained and accepted that which they had begun to do.”  Our Sages explain that while we originally accepted the Torah at Sinai under duress, at this point we accepted our Divine calling willingly.

Why was our original acceptance considered unwilling?  For the Exodus had demonstrated such a revelation of G-dliness, that to refuse the Torah would have been ludicrous.  In other words, it made no sense but to accept the Torah and therefore one could hardly call that free choice.

Our reaction to the salvation from Haman’s plot of annihilation, however, was an exercise in pure choice.  We could have looked at the facts and concluded that Esther was merely in the right place at the right time.  Instead, we consciously chose to attribute the salvation to the active Hand of G-d.   Not only did we accept, but we maintained our faith through the darkness and eventual salvation.

The Torah states, “She shall be (tihiyeh) to him as a wife.”

Shimon of Timan says, “A woman who has havaya (being).”  Rashi explains that even a couple mandated by the Torah to marry may only do so if they are eligible to get married.
Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia says, “A woman who is fitting to maintain.”  Rashi explains that according to the latter opinion, it is not sufficient that they be allowed to marry; they must be allowed to remain married according to Halacha.

How do you choose a spouse?  The first thing to look for is a person that has Havaya throughout their life.  While havaya literally means ‘being,’ it is commonly used in reference to G-d, as an anagram for his four-letter Name.  Someone who places their life in the Hands of the Almighty, that’s a good spouse.   That’s why the word for man is ish, spelled alef-yud-shin; the word for woman is isha, spelled alef-shin-hay.  The common denominator is alef-shin, which spells aish – fire.  The extra letters are yud-hay, G-d’s Name.   When the marriage is infused with G-dliness, the passion becomes Divine and all will fall into place.

The spousal relationship, of course, is the ultimate friendship.  But the same is true of all your relationships.  Look for people who live by their faith, who see the little miracles in all that happens in their lives.  People who think that they are in control and that their accomplishments are their own, lack the humility needed for a good long-lasting friendship.  People who live with Havaya in their lives, live with purpose, with meaning, with direction and with hope.  Those are the kind of people you want to have around you through the good times and the bad.

Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya teaches that we need to look for people to ‘maintain.’  That word reminds us of the faith exhibited by the Jews at the time of the Purim miracle.  They didn’t just accept G-d; they maintained their faith in Him throughout their lives.  They made a conscious decision to attribute even the not-so-obvious, as the Hand of G-d.  And that’s what you should strive towards.  It’s one thing to attribute extraordinary events to the Almighty, such as when a missile from Gaza is blown out to sea.   But maintaining your faith means looking at the birth of a child, at the formation of the mountains, at the molecules of a plant under a microscope, as the Hand of G-d.

Everything that happens in your life gives you the opportunity to make a decision.  May you merit choosing to attribute what you see to the Hand of G-d and may you surround yourself with others who have Havaya in their lives! 

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