Daf Yomi Sotah 7
Chanah, the wife of Elkanah, was barren for many years. When she was finally blessed with a child, she named him Shmuel and dedicated him to G-d. He grew up in the Temple under the watchful eye of Eli, the High Priest.
As a young boy, he once lay on his bed and heard his name being called. He ran into the other room and said to Eli, ‘I am here.’ Eli responded that he had not called him and that he should return to bed. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. Once again, Eli told him to go back to bed. On the third occasion, however, Eli realized that G-d must be calling him. And so he instructs Shmuel that next time he hears the voice, he should respond, ‘Your servant is listening.’ Thus began the exalted career of the prophet Shmuel.
When the sotah comes to be tested for her faithfulness by the bitter waters, we impress upon her the significance of the drinking. We say to her: If you are certain that you are pure of sin, rely on your innocence and drink. For the bitter waters are just like a healing cream that is placed on the skin – if there is a wound there, it penetrates and descends; if there is no wound, it has no effect.
You place the same cream on two different people. One experiences healing, the other feels nothing at all. Why does that happen? Because the first person needed that healing and the second did not.
Sometimes in life we experience revelations that nobody else seems to have. Shmuel heard the voice of G-d. Eli realized that if only Shmuel was hearing the voice, he was being called directly by Heaven for his personal Divine mission.
You might see something or hear something and have the most powerful reaction. You look around you and nobody else seems as moved as you are. That means G-d is speaking to you directly. G-d is calling you for your personal Divine mission. If the ‘cream’ has penetrated your skin and not your friend’s, you have been chosen for this specific healing.
You might tell yourself: That’s a really important cause, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else, so why should I bother with it? The answer is that if it bothers you, G-d has called you specifically for the mission. You have experienced a revelation that nobody else has been privy to. It is your task to fulfill.
One day Jennifer, our shul programming chair, told me that she wanted to step down from the position. ‘Nobody ever volunteers. They come to the programs, but they expect it all just to happen. Why should I make the effort when nobody else does?’ I explained to her that everybody has a unique role in life. If she saw the need for programming leadership and stepped up, it’s because that was her Divine calling. For someone else, it might be coming to minyan at seven o’clock every morning.
Everyone has their particular mission in life. For some of us, it is to provide for the needy. Others were put on this earth to build Jewish institutions. Yet others were given the gift of political advocacy on behalf of the Jewish community and the State of Israel. What wakes you up and spurs you to action won’t necessarily do the same for your neighbour. You have your healing cream, they have theirs. You have your mission, they have theirs.
You were uniquely fashioned by G-d. Only you hear the wake-up call He is sending out for your mission in life. May you heed the call and fulfill your mission on Earth and never worry what your neighbour’s call and mission might be!