Daily Alert

05 September 2008

Shoftim: Divination vs. Divine Guidance

On this first erev Shabbos in Elul let's step away from the politics and world events. Forget all the efforts to divert yidden from the most basic core knowledge possessed by our holy neshamos and masked by our physical needs and unrestrained emotions. These affairs, politics and polls, news and analysis - into which we invest considerable physical and emotional strength sap more than our energy. They sap our ruchnius. It is my prayer for my Jewish readers that this Elul you are afforded from Heaven the strength to overcome the gashmius and strengthen your soul bonds to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

By doing so, you will realize that all these events in which our egos want us to believe have great purpose and from which derive great pleasure, devoting countless hours for their consideration, have already been determined. If not for the need to seek meaning for our physical selves, we would otherwise be spending that same time learning and discussing ways to make the world a dwelling place for Him.

If you are someone other than Michelle Nevada, please skip the next paragraph and go straight to the dvar Torah.

Michelle, if you are reading this, you can click on something else now if you choose, since this message is one derived from the teachings of ChaBaD and the article below comes from a Rabbi with serious Lubavitch yichus. Rabbi Posner is one of those shluchim, a ChaBaDnik, following the vision of the Rebbe, who has dedicated his life to strengthening Jewish souls, teaching Torah, living as an example for others and making the world better. It is the Shluchim who are ChaBaD, not the nut cases that are quoted in the article you copied. (No intent to offend or insult should be implied in this message).



FOR YOUR SHABBAT TABLE
By Rabbi Shimon H Posner
Chabad Rancho Mirage, CA

WITCHES, BLACK CATS, BULLS AND PLANES

Black cats don't bother me any more than white or brown ones do. The thirteenth floor is fine as long as the elevator is working. Horoscopes remain unread -regardless of whether we Tauruses need to think bull market or bear.

So I read this parsha's admonitions with a detachment of sorts: more them-there, than me-now. Thou shalt not go to witches who communicate with the dead through a chicken bone held in their throat. Thou shalt not pass your children through fire.

Thou shalt not seek diviners who ask sticks if they should take trips.

Thou shalt not read omens.

Wait, it's starting to sound vaguely, eerily relevant. I don't read horoscopes largely because I think they're bunk; some syndicated whoever swaps Tuesday's Gemini for Thursday's Capricorn. But what if I was shown reams of data showing their validity? -- Then I would have to rely on the thou-shalt-nots. Or else be rolling balls down airline aisles.

But after all the (well, seemingly) far-out admonitions that the parsha throws at us, comes a simple tomim tehiye im Hashem elockecha be simple with Hashem your G-d.

What is the common wrong of all these hocus-pocus trips? They are all trying to control the future, read perhaps, but reading with the hope of control. And hocus-pocus are not the only diviners and omen readers.

At the turn of the century, (oops, make that turn of the 1800's to 1900's) progressive Jewish writers and thinkers spoke of the Talmudic tradition being now detached academic study since it is no longer alive. "Our sole purpose," exclaimed one Yiddish novelist, "is to give Judaism a decent burial." He wasn't being a pessimist either; he was being realist, simply reading all the data available. Since modernity there had been a constant draw towards the diminishing role of religion, particularism, ethnicity and every other defining tenant of Yiddishkeit.

These novelists and philosophers were, to put it simply, right. They were dead wrong - in hindsight. Their error was not because their data was faulty, but because data cannot determine the future.

Tomim tehiye -- you shall be simple, wholesome, assured. You do what you have to; you leave the rest in Whose hands it ultimately is. You have done what Hashem told you to do; you are with Him; He is good; whatever happens is Him; whatever happens is good. In mame loshon:Bashert.

Statistics, (was it Disraeli that said?) lie. Perhaps in more avenues that one. Statistics at mid-century spoke about The Disappearing Jew. The Rebbe spoke about tomim tehiye. Not coincidentally, the phrase following tomim tehiye speaks of following Moshe's successors.

Not that you're relieved of the decision making, just the nail biting. Nor can you be careless because the future is not in your hands; you may get onto your flight to Chicago and end up in Boston but you are still the one who has to check the departure monitors. But if you checked the monitors, don't roll balls or whatever down the aisle. Enjoy your flight. To wherever. It's all bashert. All good. All the time.


more articles and divrei Torah from Rabbi Posner can be found here

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