Messengers

When you are in distress because all these things have befallen you and, in the end, return to the L-rd your G-d and obey Him (Devarim 4:30)

Many of the passages in sefer Devarim not only rebuke the people of Israel, but also predict future events.

The Torah portion we read on Tishah B’Av predicts that after generations of living in the Holy Land, the Jews will become corrupted and Hashem will expel them from their homes into exile. The people will sink so low spiritually that they will worship idols that have no power and no value. But all will not be lost. The passuk predicts a return to Hashem. “From there you will seek Hashem, your G-d, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress because all these things have befallen you and, in the end, return to the L-rd your G-d and obey Him” (Devarim 4:29–30). Rabbeinu Bachye explains the process: “Says the Holy One Blessed Be He, ‘Even though I will leave, they will repent and I will return,’ as it says, ‘I will leave — I will return. From the midst of their travail that will befall them they will repent and seek my countenance.’” (Vayikra 25:25)

Rabbi Noach Weinberg told of a young man who entered his kiruv yeshivah, Aish HaTorah, in the Old City.

“What is the mission of your yeshivah?” the young man asked. “Is it to bring people close to Hashem?”

“Yes,” the Rosh Yeshivah responded.

“Well,” the young man said, as he clenched his hands together indicating true friendship, “I don’t need you because Hashem and me — Rabbi, we’re tight. He does miracles for me.”

Taking note of the Rabbi’s interest, the young man excitedly began to tell the tale of his miracle. “On a clear, cool day, I was riding my bicycle down a steep winding road in a mountainous area. My speed hit 25 miles per hour as I twisted and turned downhill at high speed. To my right were jagged rocks and to my left a fence intended to prevent cars from veering off the steep road. Suddenly, I saw a truck speeding towards me around a curve. He obviously didn’t see me and I had no choice but to veer left as I tried to brake. Rather than stop, my quick hard braking caused my bike to jump the fence and start its descent down the rocky slope. About 30 yards down my bike got caught between two rocks and folded, tossing me off to the ground. I was stunned but quickly recovered my composure and dusted myself off. I suffered just a few cuts and scratches. Rabbi, you must admit, it’s an open miracle! Like I said: Hashem and me — we’re tight!”

“I must agree it’s clear that Hashem loves you,” Rabbi Weinberg said.

Assured that he did not need anyone to bring him close to His Creator, the young man turned and stepped towards the exit.

“Before you leave, may I ask you one question?” the Rosh Yeshivah said.

“Sure,” the confident young man responded.

“Who sent the speeding truck at that moment? Who do you think threw you over the fence? In other words, my friend, who initiated the problem that He Himself miraculously resolved?” the Rav asked.

“Wow!” the young man exclaimed, as he realized where the Rav was heading.

“My dear young man, Hashem does love you. It was He Who sent you a wakeup call — and a miraculous one, at that. Do you really need another messenger before you awake?”

The young man became the newest student of Aish HaTorah Yeshivah.

Every person has moments of clarity. We all are Hashem’s beloved children. Should we stray from the path of Torah and mitzvot, trouble may befall us. It’s not meant to punish or to inflict suffering. Its true purpose is to deliver a message: “You are my child and I love you very much. Please return home and behave in an exemplary manner that demonstrates your reciprocal love. Nachamu nachamu ami!

Shabbat Nachamu shalom.